In a typically eye-catching manner, Daniel Dennett explains to Nicholas Humphrey who suggests that "we've evolved to regard consciousness as a wonderfully good thing in its own right — which could just be because consciousness is a wonderfully good thing in its own right!" what is wrong with that statement:
Think about what this "in its own right" could mean. Are we to imagine the possibility of creatures that had consciousness (that wonderfully good thing in its own right) but were oblivious, somehow, to their good fortune? Would they be deeply wrong not to treasure it? Would they leave less descendants than cousins who somehow began to get an inkling of how wonderful consciousness actually was? What would be wonderful about it if they were ill-equipped to enjoy it? (Imagine the Planet of the Rolexes—inhabited only by tortoises that happened by cosmic coincidence to be born with exquisite Rolex watches embedded in their shells. But they don't tell time, have no need to tell time, and often scrape off their Rolexes in the course of mating. Dumb tortoises! If only they knew what they had! But in what sense would they be wrong?) If wonderfulness must co-evolve with the capacity and disposition to appreciate and exploit it, then it isn't wonderfulness "in its own right." Is it?