Could it be that the persistent assertion of a 'true' reality that exists outside or beyond our perception/subjectivity is nothing more than a psychological or existential pacifier? If we entertain the widely held understanding that the universe did exist before the phenomenon of life, then it stands to reason that reality must have existed as well if we define such as all that is not imagined by a consciousness in an act of rebellion against the universe as it appears. However, why would this reality be any different from the one we experience today? Why is there so much doubt about what our minds are capable of when it comes to understanding the universe we live in?
This notion that we act within a sort of illusory realm designed by our biological limitations is quite strange. Yes, there are real things in the universe that we are incapable of perceiving for all sorts of reasons. We are limited in the sounds we can hear, the wavelengths of light we can see, and more. To think that this creates a separate kind of reality is misleading. We simply see specific parts of the universe, but they are still part of the real universe. As technology improves, we are able to detect more and more of the totality of the universe.
I may have gotten a bit off topic, but the point I'm exploring here is thus: do philosophers use the transcendental as an escape hatch for skepticism they are unwilling to let go of or for contradictions they have yet to reconcile? The idea that consciousness is transcendental, and therefor nonphysical, seems to dodge the fact that human beings are entities created within and bound by our 'material' universe (I'm including the hypothetical lower levels of reality as described by Quantum Theory that technically precede matter as we know it). Why not accept that consciousness is formed by explicitly material processes and then is able to function in an unpredictable and free manner due to it's complexity and relationships? Quantum Theory again provides means to explain this in a material sense where indeterminacy, probably best envisioned as the "swerve" by Lucretius, allows for wildly random and free occurrences. The role of observation is such a system can actually increase this randomness since the observer is utilizing materials subject to the same unpredictable behavior. Thus, we can have elaborate psychological mechanisms develop that may not be themselves material objects, but are fundamentally linked to material events. There is no need for a transcendent reality that can by definition never be proven to exist. All that is needed is a refining of one's understanding of just how complex and layered our our reality is.