Human consciousness is just about the last surviving mystery. A mystery is a phenomenon that people don't know how to think about - yet. There have been other great mysteries: the mystery of the origin of the universe, the mystery of life and reproduction, the mystery of the design to be found in nature, the mysteries of time, space and gravity. These were not just areas of scientific ignorance, but of utter bafflement and wonder. We do not yet have the final answers to any of the questions of cosmology and particle physics, molecular genetics and evolutionary theory, but we do know how to think about them. The mysteries haven't vanished, but they have been tamed. They no longer overwhelm our efforts to think about the phenomena, because now we know how to tell the misbegotten questions from the right questions and even if we turn out to be dead wrong about some of the currently accepted answers, we know how to go about looking for better answers.With consciousness, however, we are still in a terrible muddle. Consciousness stands alone today as a topic that often leaves even the most sophisticated thinkers tongue-tied and confused. And, as with all the earlier mysteries, there are many who insist - and hope - that there will never be a demystification of consciousness.Mysteries are exciting, after all, part of what makes life fun. No one appreciates the spoilsport who reveals whodunit to the moviegoers waiting in line. Once the cat is out of the bag, you can never regain the state of delicious mystification that once enthralled you. So let the reader beware. If I succeed in my attempt to explain consciousness, those who read on will trade mystery for the rudiments of scientific knowledge of consciousness, not a fair trade for some tastes. Since some people view demystification as a desecration, I expect them to view this book at the outset as an act of intellectual vandalism, an assault on the last sanctuary of humankind. I would like to change their minds.
Daniel Dennett