One neuroscientist doesn’t seem to understand the problems the idea raises
Darwinian theory could account for non-physical consciousness if consciousness were caused by the brain—that is, if non-physical consciousness were a property of brain activity and thus inextricably linked to brain activity. In that case, the argument is that the brain evolved and consciousness was dragged along because it is linked to brain activity.
In this view, consciousness is an epiphenomenal property of the brain. Epiphenomenalism was first explicitly proposed by “Darwin’s bulldog” Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895). If consciousness were epiphenomenal to physical brain processes—as a sort of by-product, like smoke from a steam engine—what evolves is the brain. Does this satisfactorily explain the evolution of consciousness?
The problem with this epiphenomenal view of consciousness is that it renders the mind powerless. If consciousness is merely a property of the brain, it has no agency—no power to cause anything—in itself. Properties can’t do anything. For example, if you hit a nail with a yellow hammer, you hit it with the hammer, not with the yellow. Epiphenomenalism, which is the only framework by which an immaterial consciousness could evolve, asserts that what actually causes us to do things is brain activity. Consciousness is a useless spin-off.Michael Egnor, “Did consciousness evolve?” at Mind Matters News
And then what becomes of theories based on consciousness, like Graziano’s?
Here’s the earlier article on Michael Graziano’s approach to consciousness: Neuroscientist Michael Graziano should meet the p-zombie. A p-zombie (a philosopher’s thought experiment) behaves exactly like a human being but has no first-person (subjective) experience. The meat robot violates no physical principles. Yet we KNOW we are not p-zombies. Think what that means.
And here is a selection of Dr. Egnor’s articles on consciousness:
In one sense, consciousness IS an illusion. We have no knowledge of the processes of our consciousness, only of the objects of its attention, whether they are physical, emotional, or abstract
Does Your Brain Construct Your Conscious Reality? Part I A reply to computational neuroscientist Anil Seth’s recent TED talk
Does Your Brain Construct Your Conscious Reality? Part II In a word, no. Your brain doesn’t “think”; YOU think, using your brain