(I'm not entirely satisfied with this question because I can't quite express it clearly, but a personal experience has moved me to ask it. I know it may be too vague or general.)
The consciousness my question is about is the "controversial" consciousness that is felt "from the inside", the first person viewpoint, the what-it's-like-to-be-something, that which gives rise to the hard problem, that thin ethereal quality that would distinguish us from an otherwise indiscernible zombie. My question is not about consciousness as a scientific phenomenon measured and quantified by neuroscience, or individual mental states.
Are there philosophers who argue that there is a close connection (maybe even an identification) between being conscious and existing? I don't mean that only we exist, because only we are conscious; I mean that other things (rocks, tables, particles) definitely do exist, and so they too must have consciousness (but obviously they don't have nervous systems, brains, and memories, so their consciousness would be radically phenomenologically different than ours). Or, that consciousness is the "stuff" reality is made out of, the stuff which takes on forms and properties and structural relations, but when stripped of these, the matter "underneath" is bare consciousness?
I have heard of a few theories that might fit this description:
- There is panpsychism/panexperientialism in contemporary philosophy of mind. Though I believe, to panpsychists/panexperientialists, the relationship between consciousness and existence is a contingent one since they typically believe that zombies are possible. I think I'm interested in a necessary relation between the two (I'm not sure though).
- There is Berkeley's "to be is to be perceived". Though strictly speaking, the thing being perceived needn't be conscious.
- I don't know much about this, but based on some conversations I've had with a Hindu mystic, I think Hindu philosophy might say something like this. That through meditation, one can experience a state of pure consciousness which is indiscernible from a state of pure being (which is our "true nature"). Though my understanding is Hindus emphasize direct experience of this state over intellectual musings.
Is there anything else? I'm especially interested in any analytic philosophers who might have said something about this (it's my personal bias) but anything from continental or Eastern philosophy is welcome too, as long as there are arguments and not just assertions.