I’ve never thought much about this subject nor did I spend much time pondering the thoughts that follow before typing them up so I apologize in advance if they are inane or offensive to anyone or any zombie out there.
It would seem to me that self-awareness is the sine qua non of consciousness. Now, if self-awareness is somehow extra-physical wouldn’t it to remain so throughout its range. Yet awareness throughout a rather easily observable portion of its range is obviously grounded firmly in the physics of this world. How so? Pardon the anecdote but once upon a time I found myself in a very dangerous circumstance. I found myself hyper-aware. And I was aware not only of my body, its position and the movements of the person attempting to do me harm—I was aware of myself thinking at a speed which would have profoundly and positively affected my grades had I been able to summon it at will. Sometimes when really fired up during closing argument it happens again. It’s like an out-of-body experience. The “I” is quite consciously controlling body language, hand movements and posture; and the “I” is playing the words like playing a record. It’s a very odd feeling and certainly makes me think there ought to be something magical about the “I”.
But what brings out the “I” is epinephrine and not epiphenomenae. Indeed states of hyper-awareness have been reproduceably generated either by administration of epinephrine or by inducing it. One interesting example I ran across while changing the channels was that of a fellow looking at a flashing screen displaying a number while falling 80 feet into a net. He couldn’t make out the number while standing on the ground as the screen was flashing too fast; but once the epinephrine burst was triggered by being dropped he became hyper-aware and could read the screen.
So my stray thought is “why search for, or even conjecture, an extra-physical cause of awareness when we know that it is modified by a very down to earth neurotransmitter?”