Future generations, I suspect, will wonder why it took us so long in the twentieth century to see the centrality of consciousness in the understanding of our very existence as human beings. Why, for so long, did we think that consciousness did not matter, that it was unimportant? The paradox is that consciousness is the condition that makes it possible for anything at all to matter to anybody. Only to conscious agents can there ever be a question of anything mattering or having any importance at all.
John Searle, The Mystery of Consciousness, New York, 1997, p. xiv