Think about this metaphor, and I think you’ll finally grasp what consciousness is:
You’re standing in a church belfry, in front of a brass bell, not unlike the Liberty Bell. Beside you is a wooden hammer, the kind used on such bells.
You pick up the hammer, and strike the bell.
As the bell is ringing from the impact, it is, in effect, “conscious” of the fact that it has interacted with its environment. It is so for as long as it’s ringing.
THAT is what consciousness is. Although the bell is not alive, nevertheless, metaphorically, as it is ringing from the impact, it is reliving and re-assessing and re-acting to an environmental stimulus. Human beings’ brains are so complex, they “ring” to a multitude of “impacts” simultaneously, in addition to being able to remember past “impacts” AND to cause their own “impacts” on the environment in a “self-propelled” manner.
That’s all that consciousness is. The constant ringing of groups of neurons in one’s head, due to all the environmental impacts and the “self-aware” thoughts we have, which in their own way are just continued ringing.
This doesn’t directly address the question as to whether qualia are identical from person to person, that is, whether what I experience as red is the same as what you experience. But, given the fact that our brains are all wired the same and work the same way, there is nothing that says that our qualia are not the same.
I’ve had this position re qualia and consciousness for some years now, but felt the need to post it here. Take it for what it’s worth. John V. Karavitis