Searle claims all the problems with talking about consciousness go away when we accept that it's a biological phenomena (ie. it's produced by the brain).
I should begin by pointing out he used a straw man fallacy here, by saying there are only 2 camps:
1) That consciousness is not a part of the physical world, it belongs to the spiritual world, it belongs to the soul; and the soul is not a part of the physical world.
2) Consciousness doesn't exist or it's something else (but still not of the physical world).
Searle does this because he simply can't be in his field and be unaware of the concept of panpsychism; and why this concept has roundly upended his claim -that Consciousness is a product of the Brain- in multiple ways. Google "support for panpsychism" and you'll see a robust body of luminaries supporting it.
Sadly, Searle must be too stubborn (or just too tired) to bother keeping up with current science, or is too captive to his ego as a prominent contributor to academia to admit his ideas are obsolete. It's sad that he can't admit this and continue contributing to this critical field of research.
Here's one example of science patently demonstrating why consciousness is not a product of the brain, but instead, is a fundamental property of reality/universe:
"The results of this experiment, as well as another conducted in 2007, proved what (John) Wheeler had always suspected – observers’ consciousness is required to bring the universe into existence. This means that a pre-life Earth would have existed in an undetermined state, and a pre-life universe could only exist retroactively."
From: https://futurism.com/john-wheelers-participatory-universe The take-away there is: "Consciousness is required to bring the universe into existence." While there's slight variation on the definition of panpsychism, the basic concept is that consciousness pervades the fabric of reality. And yes, this is to mean that even what we consider nonliving objects, like rocks, possess it. Naturally, this notion of inanimate objects having consciousness may challenge believability, because we don't observe what we consider evidence of conscious behavior in inanimate objects. So, consider that our definition of consciousness -meaning "that which is self-aware and thinks"- may be critically short-sighted. I say that with irony because, how can we determine whether something "thinks" or is "self-aware" if we can't actually *see* it demonstrate what we expect a thinking, self-aware thing will do in reaction to outside forces?
For example, when you poke a person, a frog, or even a bacteria, we can *see* that it reacts immediately. But not a rock, of course, that is, it won't jump up and run away or hurl itself at you in self defense. But WHY would a rock need to do so (even if it could)? How do you "endanger" it by poking it? What does it have to be *afraid* of?
The only reason living things retreat from danger or move towards opportunity (food or procreation) is because of their biological imperative to survive long enough to pass on their genes or, in some cases, protect and teach their young until they become self-sufficient and can carry on the genetic torch. Even though plants have the same imperative, we can see they're not so great at immediately defending themselves against things that want to eat or destroy them. Sure, many made themselves poisonous to some animals and insects, and developed various strategies to compete with other plants for soil, water and light; or make themselves useful to creatures as food sources -like fruit-bearing plants or, in the case of humans, plants that please our various senses (ie. roses, cacao, tobacco, cannabis, etc). But they took thousands if not millions of years to develop those adaptations.
In other words, just because a tree doesn't run away at the sight of a chainsaw, or attack people walking too close for comfort, doesn't mean it's not conscious.
Even individual cells require a rudimentary form of consciousness to recognize food, danger, damage, how to self-repair, how to exploit other organisms (parasites), or how to cooperate with other organisms (symbiosis). With such obvious, observable traits of awareness of self and environment, how can we possibly dismiss that consciousness exists at the smallest level of life?
Now, consider this: Only humans worry about the bills, divine judgement, what's going to happen to characters on TV shows, or the million other things we get caught up in beyond the weather, our next meal and possible mating opportunities.
Every species has different motivations based on their particular biological needs and niche. And, they have different degrees of sensory ability that radically defines the reality they live in.
So, why wouldn't there be a form of consciousness on the subatomic level? What would a particle "worry" about or be "motivated" by? And how would we recognize such behavior? We could easily assume that independent atoms (as we understand them) have neither the same needs much less concerns of "living" organisms. So, on what *basis* can we reasonably deny that consciousness doesn't exist in some fashion at the subatomic realm ...and beyond?
Interestingly, when we get to the smallest level of matter we've managed to apprehend thus far (the Plank scale) we find signs of intelligence in John Wheeler's Quantum Foam. While this is still theoretical, strong evidence supports it. And this is where panpsychism ironically finds a foothold in terra firma. Because the so-called "bubbles" in Quantum Foam are characterized by theoretical physicist Y. Jack Ng as tiny computer *universes* that encode and process information. See: https://www.vice.com/en/article/j5yngp/the-universe-is-made-of-tiny-bubbles-containing-mini-universes-scientists-say "Encoding and processing information" sure sounds like something living (ie. DNA) and conscious entities do, doesn't it? All living things do different things with different information. So what's it to us that a rock has no compulsion to bang drums to impress a girl? (Maybe it already does, in some sense, in a reality we just haven't learned to detect yet) While the term "panpsychism" has been credited to Italian philosopher Francesco Patrizi in the 16th century, other sources date it back to Aristotle (c. 624 – 545 BCE). But the concept of panpsychism has been found to have roots tracing back as far as 300,000 years. One of the more recent examples dates back over 2,500 years ago with Taoism. Before that, Hinduism came up with the concept of Vishnu -the god that dreams all the worlds of reality. When you look at this representation of Vishnu, you'll see how conspicuously it suggests Wheeler's concept of Quantum Foam:
I briefly outline the antiquity of panpsychism to address how, as far back as we know, our species has possessed an intuitive sense that consciousness is a fundamental component of the physical world. And so, it should stand out to us that our modern scientists have managed to circle back to this most ancient feature our ancestors obsessed over.
“Life” is defined as, “…the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.”
Here's how that definition also applies to what we call “inanimate” objects:
Our world abounds with natural systems that cause mountains and stalactites to grow, proliferate and be formed anew (ie. “reproduce”). But we don't consider stalactites to be "alive" much less conscious.
Mountains, rivers, oceans, clouds, wind, heat and light all provide vital functional activities that regulate life on our planet, while the spinning liquid iron core of our planet generates the magnetosphere that protects all life on our planet from being irradiated dead by the Sun. And all of it participates in a process of chemical transformation that continually changes things from one form to another.
Hills and mountains grow from the movement of tectonic plates, while “dying” -as particles of their surfaces are shorn away by the elements over time, just like we shed skin cells that become end up in the air we breath, the ground, and clouds in the sky. And all of it inhaled by the atmospheric lungs of our planet and exhaled back to Earth, reduced to their molecular and atomic constituents, to be reabsorbed and reintegrate by the environment.
Astronauts have said the Earth really does appear to be a living macro-organism when seen from space. How can this credibly be argued against?
Bridging how Quantum Foam seems a good candidate as the source of Consciousness (or simply the medium consciousness creates to be experienced?), this article discusses how the brain may really be a Transducer bridging consciousness and matter:
I find an elegant representation of the "Transduction" model is the cover image on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album:
Getting back to Searle, he says you can't get rid of consciousness. But he doesn't seem to have really thought that out. Because, if he insists that consciousness is a product of the brain, then it absolutely *can* be gotten rid of -by killing the brain.
And, if consciousness is a product of the brain, how do cells "know" how to form a body before there's a brain (especially with such consistent symmetry)? The fact that 99% of all progeny are birthed with the symmetry they have (2 legs, 2 arms, 2 eyes, or 8 eyes and 8 legs, bilaterally symmetrical) suggests some degree of intelligence exists behind it all.
Through his whole talk, he's just spewing out statements without supporting them.
He mentions consciousness as a "unified field" but doesn't explain what he means by that.
He says Consciousness creates an observer-independent reality, but he doesn't explain that either.
Observer-independent is defined as: "...a piece of information obtained from a measurement should be a fact of the world that all observers can agree on."
Rhetorical question: So, what's he trying to say when he says that consciousness creates an observer-independent reality?
He then says that "...money, property, government, marriage, cocktail parties, conferences, and vacations" are all creations of consciousness. Again, he doesn't explain how or why. He's just making a statement.
The fact is, these things he says consciousness "creates" really exist in the domain of *social reality* (where society agrees on what concepts and objects mean or represent). But that's not observer-independent reality (to which there is no direct access).
His talk flies haphazardly in breathless mania (or he's just got breathing issues + ...?).
Searle appears as though he thinks his tenure, being a published author, etc. gives him a free pass to spout whatever he wants, without supporting it with any objective merit, and that people should just accept it. What a sad representation of what's being passed off as Academia's best minds.