Besides many definitions of consciousness, there is a distinction between consciousness as something very worldly versus something magical. What will it be?
Consciousness as a functionality
Humans have received consciousness from Mother Nature because the pre-conscious era evolved toward a state in which consciousness was gradually becoming an asset for survival.
In this sense, consciousness can be seen as a new functionality of what was before. It was – gradually, again – invented, just as our one nose, two eyes, and four limbs. Simply said, the cost-benefit ratio was in favor of consciousness as an add-on.
Moreover, the prerequisites were already there. Nothing fundamentally original needed to be developed (through evolution). It was the result of bringing together, mostly, intelligence and a drive to thrive (and survive). Some researchers, therefore, ask themselves whether consciousness serves any additional purpose. Well, radically seen, probably not. But yes, as we all can witness, it enables a tremendous lot of new possibilities.
Nothing magical. Let’s make a detour now.
Let the real magic come forward
‘Real’ magic = miracles, supernatural power, thaumaturgical acts.
Real magic = a stage magician’s tricks, pretending the impossible while everybody knows – or is supposed to know – still wondering how on earth it can be done.
Yet, people may ask whether there is something real about real magic or whether it is just some stage trick. Ironically, there is nothing really magical about real magic, while there is nothing real about ‘real’ magic.
The hard problem of consciousness
This is the search for consciousness as a miracle-magic. The so-called ‘hard problem’ is: Where does this magical consciousness come from?
According to most of those who try to solve the hard problem, magical consciousness is deemed to exist somewhere in Platonic heaven or something similar. It is entirely divided from the body/brain, even being of a wholly different and incompatible ‘substance,’ yet there is a continual influence between these incompatible substances. Thus, magical consciousness is material and, at the same time, immaterial.
Also, it is supposed to be either entirely non-present or present ― in the last case coming from nowhere and, in many people’s belief, surviving the body to go to some heaven of consciousness, either or not as a conscious soul.
Basically, this is a catastrophic overstatement of the importance of consciousness.
The magic of consciousness brings the magic of free will.
Without consciousness, there is no meaning for the concept of ‘free will’ as generally understood. If one cannot consciously choose, it doesn’t feel like a personal choice at all.
In the past, animals were deemed not to have consciousness ― therefore, also no free will. Thus, they were seen as mere automata and to be dealt with like some machines. Even now, animals are en masse treated as such – no deontology needed for their being deprived of any conscious characteristic.
Animals, of course, do have some degree of consciousness.
We don’t need magical stuff.
To me, the real stuff is far more interesting. It is probably through disdaining this that many people desperately search for something more, something in the realm of magic that can give them the idea of being special.
Of course, in this projected realm, there is always a place reserved, one way or the other, for mere-ego wielding the magical wand, either directly or through some ego instrument. That can go from a pill to an ego-shaped conceptual godhead. Sometimes, the godhead prescribes the pill.
I would say: Be non-magical. That is already more than special enough.