In addition to the problem of intentionality, the capacity of human beings to reason and use intellect and will is an insurmountable obstacle for Darwinian theories of the evolution of consciousness. As Aristotle and scientists and philosophers who have followed his thinking have noted for millennia, the human capacity for abstract reasoning is inherently immaterial. No material explanation for the human capacity of reason is even conceivable.
For example, how can human beings contemplate “infinity” using physiological (material) processes in the brain? All material processes are finite and could not thereby account for thoughts about infinity. Nor can material processes explain the perfection inherent in certain mathematical concepts, such as triangularity. All material instantiations of triangularity are imperfect — lines aren’t perfectly straight and angles in actual (material) triangles don’t add up to exactly 180 degrees. Yet our abstract understanding of triangularity is perfect, in the sense that we understand triangularity as involving straight sides and 180 degree sums of angles.Michael Egnor, “Is consciousness the sort of thing that could have evolved?” at Mind Matters News (June 28, 2022)
Takehome: Material processes cannot, for example, account for the power to grasp infinity or perfection — which are not material ideas.
Note: A common response among naturalists is to claim that such abstractions, like consciousness itself, are an illusion. Egnor would respond, “If your hypothesis is that your mind is an illusion, then you do not have a hypothesis.” That’s one reason that panpsychism is better tolerated in science than it used to be. The reality is, slowly but surely, sinking in.
You may also wish to read: Did minimal consciousness drive the Cambrian Explosion? Eva Jablonka’s team makes the daring case, repurposing Hungarian chemist Tibor Gánti’s origin of life studies. The researchers point out that life forms that show minimal consciousness have very different brains from each other. Behavior, not brain anatomy, is the signal to look for.