What Is Consciousness?

I like this quote from a Stuart Hammeroff, a medical doctor specializing in anesthesiology who has studied consciousness for the past 30 years:

Stuart Hameroff
Most people think that consciousness emerged over eons as a byproduct of random mutations and the inherent complexity of natural selection, but I look at it the other way around. I think a fundamental field of protoconscious experience has been embedded all along—since the big bang—in the [quantum realm], and that biology evolved and adapted in order to access it and to maximize the qualities and potentials implicit within it. . . I think that when you meditate and attain nothingness . . . it isn’t quite nothingness. You move more deeply into the basic fabric of the universe and actually become more consciously a part of it.


I think that implying that these two theories must be mutually exclusive is fairly limiting. It is possible for things to occur simultaneously within a species as a byproduct of random mutation, and then concurrently be consciously be interpreted by members of a species who have had it embedded all along but maybe were not aware of the adaptive advantages.
Everything has an innate consciousness of the universe... but the ability to tap in to that consciousness will vary by species as well as within species. It is unfair and unrealistic to expect all living things to tap into their consciousness to their maximum capabilities, some people actively choose to live comfortably within limited consciousness and it is limiting to attach a value judgment to that.