I've been reading Keith Frankish recently. For example, this. Frankish appears to deny the reality of phenomenal consciousness, a.k.a. "qualia" or "what-it's-like-ness".
"Phenomenal consciousness" does sound like a bit of a suspicious concept. The terminology is technical and recent, for one thing. That invites the idea that phenomenal consciousness is a new concept invented by philosophers, and culturally specific. And that in turn invites the idea that in talking about it, we're talking about some odd sort of theoretical concoction, not a foundationally important aspect of human life.
Furthermore, philosophers wax oddly mysterious when they talk about it. Sometimes they say that it can't be defined, only gestured at or expressed via synonyms. Ned Block, borrowing a phrase about jazz from Louis Armstrong, tells us ("only half in jest"): "If you got to ask, you ain't never gonna get to know" (1978/1983, p. 241).
Despite all this air of mystery, I think the idea of phenomenal consciousness is simple and obvious, once you stop to think about it -- and probably would be so across cultures (though I'll admit that's speculative).
You have sensory experiences. Of course you do. Maybe you have the experience of seeing a computer screen. Maybe you have the experience of hearing someone making noise down the hall. Maybe you have the experience of the taste of coffee lingering in your mouth. Consider some vivid and obvious ones.
You have imagery experiences too. Imagine your house, as viewed from the street, if you can. Or think of the melody of Beethoven's Fifth ("da da da DA, da da da DA"). Or say this very sentence silently to yourself in inner speech.
You've had emotional experience also, I'm sure -- panics of fear, thrills of joy, the quiet pleasure of mellow contentment.
This isn't necessarily an exhaustive list of types of experience, but I think this is enough to give you the idea. There's something that sensory experiences, imagery experiences, and emotional experiences have in common. They're experiences. Dream experiences have this too (even though in some sense you're not "conscious"). At the same time, there are other things going on inside of you that you don't in the same way experience -- immune system response, for example, or the processes by which your fingernails grow. There are also other facts about your mind which you don't normally experience, such as your propensity to say "blue" when asked your favorite color (and let's assume that you aren't being asked right now), or your general, not-currently-relevant preference for vanilla over chocolate. Sensory, imagery, and emotional experiences have something obvious in common, which makes them different from all these other things. The term "phenomenally conscious" refers to that obvious feature they have in common. When you try to describe these experiences to someone else, there are facts about what those experiences are, facts that you are trying to get right -- facts that you might feel like you are struggling to put into words.
Neologism is helpful here not, I think, because the concept is new or strange but rather because folk usage is messy. "Experience" can mean that you've acquired some skills or undergone some events in the past, as in the phrase "I have some teaching experience". The words "consciousness" and "awareness" invite trouble if we hear too much of an epistemic dimension in them: To say that one is conscious of something or aware of something seems to imply that you know something about it, but we might not want to build any suggestions of transitive knowledge into our concept of consciousness. Personally, I like the phrases "conscious experience" and "stream of experience". I think those phrases convey the idea well enough. But for extra clarity, among those philosophers who like to make fine distinctions, the phrase "phenomenal consciousness" also serves.
Frankish suggests, in his 2012 article linked above (I'm not sure he's still committed to this), that demonstrative definitions of phenomenal consciousness by means of example -- that is, definitions of the sort I've just tried -- must fail because philosophers have different accounts of the underlying nature of such things (for example, some philosophers think we are directly aware of properties of our experiences, while others think that at least in sensory experience we are instead directly aware only of the properties of outward objects); but as Frankish acknowledges, disagreement about the fundamental nature of things is compatible with referring to them in common -- as for example ancient people and modern astronomers were both able to refer to "stars". Pushing farther, Frankish endorses Gareth Evans's view that identification of spatio-temporal particulars requires being able to track them in egocentric space; but that's quite a dubious commitment to take on board, especially in this context.
Frankish suggests -- and also Jay Garfield, in his recent book on Buddhist philosophy -- that the modern philosophical concept of phenomenal consciousness imports dubious notions, such as ineffability or infallible knowability or immateriality, which make it fail as a concept. But I don't see how a bare demonstrative account of the sort I've given, in terms of positive and negative examples, involves any such dubious philosophical commitments. Of course, one could define "qualia" or "phenomenal properties" in a way that commits to such matters, and sometimes philosophers do so, but my own aim is to avoid such commitments, keeping open as much as possible, while still pointing at the obvious thing that all conscious experiences have in common that makes us want to classify them together as "conscious experiences".
There are, I think, two main issues that I do not keep open. One is that there is some obvious common feature of most or all of the intended positive examples have (the various sensory experiences, imagery experiences, and emotional experiences) and which the negative examples lack, which we can take to be the target of the phrase "phenomenal consciousness". The other is that there are facts about what these experiences are, which in our introspective reports we are trying to get at. These assumptions are not entirely philosophically innocent; but I hope they are plausible enough. I can't make do with fewer.
There is one further thing that I will commit to here, of some philosophical significance. It's kind of the flip side of openness. If I have succeeded in conceiving of phenomenal consciousness with a high degree of metaphysical innocence, then there ought to be nothing built into the notion of phenomenal consciousness that rules out various wild metaphysical views such as idealism (the view that only mental things exist, and not anything material) or even radical solipsism (the view that the only thing that exists in the universe is my own mind). And indeed, I do think that there's nothing incoherent in the supposition that there might only be phenomenal consciousness and nothing else. Some philosophers -- maybe Frankish and Garfield among them? -- would like to rule out idealism from square one, would like to say that the very idea of mentality already presupposes the idea of something beyond the mental, so that idealism, and maybe also less radical views like dualism, are conceptually incoherent. If my minimalist conception of phenomenal consciousness is correct, however, there is no such easy path to the rejection of those metaphysical positions.