A gift from the Devil?

Today, while looking for something else on a long and circuitous journey through the web, I stumbled across this response by Dan Moerman to a talk by Nicholas Humphrey, “A Self worth having”. The talk and the responses are well worth spending some time to read carefully and to ponder, but it was Moerman’s take that gave me a real liberating buzz. (A reward for a bit of purposive drift?) I quote two key passages here, but do urge you to read the whole thing yourself:
“Consciousness is a gift, and perhaps one from the Devil. It makes no sense. Five thousand other mammals from platypus to dolphin manage without anything remotely like a human system of consciousness, language, meaning, recursion, uncountable sets, aesthetics, etc. Yes, all animals (mammals and planaria) probably have some sense of self (although in some cases, like slime molds, it’s hard to know where it would reside); all sexual animals, at least, communicate at least once in a while (well, oysters do it without much communication that makes any sense to me; so let me change it to “most sexual animals”). Some stuff may mean things to primates; although that obviously depends on the definition of “mean,” something that would be hard to discuss with the wisest chimpanzee (which is, I guess, the point). And, of course, I know lots of human beings who have utterly no sense at all of aesthetics, even if they can “talk,” in some sense of the word.”
And the kicker:
“So, given a) the astonishing persistence of non-individualized life, of life free of human-style consciousness (for tens of thousands of animal species, and hundreds of thousands of plant species), and b) the damage that we consciousness-rich persons have done to the whole ecosystem, to the evolutionary system which has been going on for a billion years (more damaging than a streaking asteroid, than a billion volcanos, than the drifting of continents; or whatever), it seems to me that we have to look at consciousness as not an evolutionary (and specifically adaptive) development (which Nick notes is incredibly hard to account for, in the way that we can account for other adaptations, like sickle cell anemia, or tool making), but an accident, or a gift, or both…”