Yes! I know where you’re coming from, just because an “emergent property” is difficult to predict doesn’t mean it’s synonymous with “magic” or that it’s fundamentally unexplainable.
I think all these models of the fundamental paradox of being cannot be anything other than explanatory fictions because it’s ineffable.
But thinking like a materialist I don’t think it’s entirely off the mark to say, the phenomenon of consciousness may not be explainable materially, but the contents of consciousness seem to have direct correlates to informational structures in the brain. I think that the only way to explain the phenomenon of consciousness from a materialist perspective is to say consciousness is physical interaction for you can’t explain the very phenomenon of it causally (as an emergent property).
If the contents of consciousness are instantiated patterns, be it within any substrate, then we come to the conclusion that there’s no difference in kind between physical structures instantiated inside the brain and those found outside the brain. One recognizes that this way of interpreting the material rationalist observation of correlations between awareness’s contents and physical informational structures leads one necessarily to conclude that all informational structures are conscious. One might begin to wonder why one is aware of the sights and sounds one hears yet, unaware of what it feels like to be the wind, or the pancreas, or the hindbrain for that matter. (Another way to ask this is to say, if physical interaction is the instantiation of informational structures why am I centered in me and not simply aware of the entire universe of structure around me?)
I think there is a material answer to this question. Why am I not aware of lower levels of informational structures inside my brain? I think it has to do with feedback loops. There are lots of feedback loops that instantiate patterns that just were, in the context of what has happened in the past in the brain, and I presume in the prefrontal cortex especially. I think this overlap of recurrent models forms the tip of the mountain upon which our awareness knows it sits. It knows it sits here because it knows it sits here. The wind has many fewer feedback mechanisms. The wind creates little memory of its past, few recursive functions, the wind makes no ego. That is why, I believe, our consciousness stays in our heads and we don’t know what it’s like to be other things: because the shape of our head is a recursive memory structure whereas the shape of the wind is not constantly reminded of what it is - it just is.
This realization - that physical structure is the shape of consciousness - is what invites the material reductionist (as I was) to wonder if panpsychism isn’t part of the answer. Perhaps from that point of view, it is the answer: that awareness is a fundamental property of physical interaction.
I tend to take a slightly different tack. If you must see consciousness from a material reductionist point of view, I think the answer is not to see awareness as a fundamental property of matter, but to see matter as, necessarily, the contents of awareness: matter and the contents of consciousness are two sides of the same coin. Matter cannot exist outside awareness.
But as I said, explanatory fictions, all of these models. The only model that is accurate to what is, is what is. But I think by talking about the same topics from several angles we can gain a better view than any one particular view can by itself, because every view that tries to fully explain the paradox is a lie.