Consciousness is not a nonphysical phenomenon. It is an evolved user-illusion, “a system of virtual machines that evolved, genetically and memetically, to play very special roles in the ‘cognitive niche’ our ancestors have constructed over the millennia.” There can be competence without comprehension, and comprehension is expensive, so nature uses the “need to know” principle. Most animals don’t need to know. Are there degrees of consciousness? Where might we draw a line? We draw a line for moral reasons and try to prevent animals from suffering, but what is suffering? We euthanize dogs when we think they are conscious of suffering, but do fish suffer? Do mosquitos suffer? We are willing to exterminate rats but not squirrels; why? Dennett warns that in trying to understand consciousness, “We mustn’t let our moral intuitions distort our empirical investigation from the outset.”
It’s hard to understand how uncomprehending neurons could give rise to comprehension, but they do. We can think about reasons and let these reasons influence our behavior, something no other animals can do. “We can perform many quite adroit and retrospectively justifiable actions with only a vague conception of what we are up to, a conception often swiftly sharpened in hindsight by the self-attribution of reasons.”More.
Ideas are a non-physical phenomenon by their nature.
One wonders why anyone pays attention to this stuff. What failures in their own lives are people trying to avoid if they believe things that are so obviously false and require such transparently obvious fictions to maintain them?
See also: Thomas Nagel: Daniel Dennett “maintaining a thesis at all costs” in Bacteria to Bach and Back
The illusion of consciousness sees through itself.