The idea of consciousness may be nothing more than that--an idea, but I don't think the absence of any actual consciousness means that there isn't anything unique about it. <Consciousness> gave rise to the notion that man is "higher" than all the animals and separate from them. It's what convinces people of the existence of immaterial souls. Not that I buy into that nor does it explain consciousness in any way. I think it's safe to say, however, that <consciousness> is an attempt to encapsulate something about the thought processes that are unique to our species. The concept of consciousness isn't the same as the perception of colour (yes, it's the Canadian spelling) because there are other animals that can perceive colour (whether or not it's in the same way we do is irrelevant). And I'd say that sex appeal is analogous to the attractiveness of a male to a female in a lot of other species. I agree with Robin that humans readily accept other people to be conscious because we're similar so it's more or less assumed as with other common subjective experiences. That doesn't necessarily mean that consciousness is just a meme but it does show that *what we accept as being conscious* to be the prevalent meme here. Humanoid aliens in sci-fi are easily accepted as being conscious but what about fictional aliens that are far from humanoid? Anyone remember the crystalline entity from Star Trek:TNG? What about dolphins, could they be conscious? Personally, I don't think so because I think language and communication has a lot do with consciousness. They do have a pretty sophisticated way of communicating to each other. It's not just communicating to each other, but also thinking to one's self in some way that constitutes consciousness in the self-aware sense. I doubt that what dolphins say to each other is something a dolphin would need to say to itself, and it's probably because the language isn't complex enough for that. And that would be because they don't have any means (i.e. vocal cords) to develop enough variations in patterns to express a variety of concepts. Nor do they need to develop new terminology for newly invented tools since they don't have things like hands and fingers to make tools. And as for people, are the retarded or Alzheimer's-inflicted conscious?
/_/ / /o / / / / / / / / Mark Cidade / / /) / / / _ http://www.marxidad.com/glub / \/\ \_/\/\_X/ ^^^^
"It is not the consciousness of men
that determines their being, but,
on the contrary, their social being
that determines their consciousness."