It is true that the study of mind has been taken over by neurobiologists, neuropsychologists, and artificial nitelligence programmers over the past two decades. Philosophers of mind often think of themselves as doing this kind of work, rather than more traditional studies of consciousness, which Searle notes raises again the old, shopworn mind-body dualism.
That's the classic problem, the one even Descartes may have thought he had resolved by locating the nexus between physical, objective brain and nonphysical, subjective consciousness in the pineal gland. This was always, perhaps even for Descartes, a pretty silly explanation.
This problem, the traditional problem of the relation of conscious experiences to the physical brain, of "mind" to body, is precisely Nicholas Humphrey's target of investigation in Seeing Red: A Study in Consciousness. I think he would agree with my definition of consciousness and with my claim that it is irreducibly subjective. But he takes exception to my claim that one of its important functions is conscious perception and he strongly disagrees with my claim that a central problem is to try to get an account of how brain processes cause conscious experiences. He, on the contrary, thinks that all perception is unconscious, and that instead of trying to find a causal explanation for consciousness we should try to find an equation: i.e., if we are going to solve the problem of the relation of the mind to the body, we have to show that conscious mental experience is identical with the content of the physical brain.
It is important to see the differences between these two approaches. On the standard account, neurobiologists are seeking the "neuronal correlate of consciousness" (NCC). The idea is that if we could first identify the NCC—the events in the brain that occur when we have subjective experiences—we could then test to see if the correlation is causal, and finally we would like to develop a theory showing how the neuronal correlates cause the conscious experiences. This research is currently widely pursued and is making some progress. Humphrey's entire approach differs from mainstream philosophy and neuroscience. He dismisses the search for the NCC on the grounds that it "privileges neuronal events over all the other ways we might wish to describe what is going on in the brain." For him any explanation has to be of the form mind = brain, m = b [Searle, rather, takes a causal account, rather than this kind of equation assumption]...
...Mind and brain appear to be in different dimensions, because mind has qualitative subjectivity and brain does not. If you try to say, for example, that the experience of red is identical with neuron firings, the terms of the equation seem to be in different dimensions, because the conscious experience of red has the qualitative sub-jectivity that I described earlier, while neuron firings do not. It is a first-person phenomenon, whereas neuron firings are objective, third-person phenomena that would theoretically look the same to any observer, if they could be observed.
But there has been quite a bit of work done on consciousness and Searle's own assumption that there is some kind of "return" to studies of consciousness requires overlooking quite a bit of research and philosophical work. Searle, in fact, operates here on his own variation of the assumption that m=b.
Owen Flanagan, among others, has long worked on consciousness as a function of body where the brain plays a significant but not exclusive role in first-person consciousness. Rather, consciousness is a set of evolutionary processes that require phenomenological, neural, psychological analyses. Yes, the mind is basically the brain, but where the brain is taken as an evolutionary nervous system of mutation, genetic drift, natural selection, migration.
The ego, the conscious self of subjective experience, is therefore emergent in the context of environment. Wiping away the full context and panoply of processes involved in understanding consciousness in order to reduce it to 'm=b' or 'b causes m' seems to miss real possibilities of understanding and explanation, and it may very well be the fetishiziation of explaining mind-body via artificial intelligence programs that has served to set aside context and complex processes. Apparently, some neuropsychologists are even returning to William James' 100+ year-old notion that the body, more generally speaking, is the source of consciousness given that there is evidence that the body - and not simply the brain - "knows" before the mind does.