Bridgeman agrees that consciousness is bootstrapped by other brains but he argues that it then becomes autonomous and hence that it is possible to examine it in a single brain. If one does so one should be aware that the method can tell one little or nothing about important aspects of the object of study, which stems from the fact that the most important aspect of consciousness is that it is the medium through which the social culture within which we live is transmitted and developed. If you study consciousness in an isolated brain, you will be studying a biological phenomenon divorced from its extraordinarily potent role in our evolution.
1.2 In the case of the vase, the baked clay will tell you nothing of its form and function, though it might perhaps give valuable clues about its history and origin. Similarly, Robinson Crusoe's brain would presumably contain clues about his history and origin, but you would find out nothing about the most important function of consciousness, which stems from the fact that it is the medium through which the social culture within which we live is transmitted and developed.
1.3 As Bridgeman says, consciousness makes our plans and associated thoughts reportable to others, and it is easy to see that this reportability is crucial for our social life. If consciousness had not been bootstrapped into our brains and if we had not kindled this fire in others, our society would certainly be quite different and it is hard to see how there could be be any kind of stable culture transmitted from generation to generation.
1.4 It has often been pointed out that we have no evidence for consciousness in brains other than our own, for we can imagine them producing all, or almost all, the actions they do produce without it. But mankind's actions include civilised social behaviour in a transmitted culture, and that is something that would not be possible if we could not report our plans and associated thoughts to each other, that is, without consciousness. If you study consciousness in an isolated brain, you will be studying a biological phenomenon divorced from its extraordinarily potent role in our evolution.
Barlow, Horace (1992) The Social Role of Consciousness: Commentary on Bridgeman on Consciousness. PSYCOLOQUY 3(19) consciousness.4
Bridgeman, Bruce (1992a) On the Evolution of Consciousness and Language. PSYCOLOQUY 3(15) consciousness.1
Bridgeman, Bruce (1992b) The social bootstrapping of human consciousness. Reply to Barlow on Bridgeman on Consciousness. PSYCOLOQUY 3(20) consciousness.5
[Editorial Note: Bruce Bridgeman has elected not to respond.]