This article from the online journal Aeon (UK) makes the argument that key elements of our consciousness are just an illusion.
"When you attend to the apple, the red quality you experience seems to be a feature of the apple, which causes the reactions in you. (You believe the apple is red because it looks red.) Similarly, the sound seems to be in the air, the taste in the wine, the pain in your toe, and so on. But it is generally agreed that this can’t be right. For science tells us that objects don’t have such qualitative properties, just complex physical ones of the sort described by physics and chemistry. The atoms that make up the skin of the apple aren’t red. ... It seems, then, that the qualities of colour, sound, pain and so on exist only in our minds, as properties of our experiences. Philosophers refer to these subjective qualities of experience as ‘qualia’ or ‘phenomenal properties’, and they say that creatures whose experiences have them are phenomenally conscious. It is phenomenal consciousness that I believe is illusory. For science finds nothing qualitative in our brains, any more than in the world outside. The atoms in your brain aren’t coloured and they don’t compose a colourful inner image. (And even if they did, there is no inner eye to see it.) Nor do they have any other qualitative properties. There are no inner sounds, smells, tastes and pains, and no inner observer to experience them if there were. ...
"Think of watching a movie. What your eyes are actually witnessing is a series of still images rapidly succeeding each other. But your visual system represents these images as a single fluid moving image. The motion is an illusion. Similarly, illusionists argue, your introspective system misrepresents complex patterns of brain activity as simple phenomenal properties. The phenomenality is an illusion. ...
"Think about it from an engineering perspective. If you were building an autonomous robot, you would begin by equipping it with sensors for significant features of the external world and critical states of its own body, so that it could perform tasks, get the resources it needs, and protect itself from harm. Only later might you think of adding introspective systems so that it could monitor its own sensory processes and exercise sophisticated kinds of self-control. It would be surprising if evolution hadn’t taken the same path with us."
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