Rethinking the evolution of consciousness

In Susan Schneider & Max Velmans (eds.), Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell (2007)
Suppose that consciousness is a natural feature of biological organisms, and that it is a capacity or property or process that resides in a single organ. In that case there is a straightforward question about the consciousness organ, namely: How did the consciousness organ come to be formed and why is its presence maintained in those organisms that have it? Of course answering this question might be rather difficult, particularly if the consciousness organ is made of soft tissue that leaves at best indirect fossil records, or if it has been fixed in the populations for such a long time that there are few available examples of organisms that lack the consciousness organ on which to conduct comparative experiments. No doubt there are other confounding practical obstacles as well. But these are just the complications that face biologists and natural historians on a regular basis, and they do not reflect any special problems about the study of consciousness. This is just to say that if consciousness is a natural feature of biological organisms then its origins and history can be studied in the same manner as other features of the biological world. It’s a hard business, but biologists are pretty good at it
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