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Personal omphalism is, for a lack of a better term (let me know if you know of a better word), what I call the possibility of one's own mind having come into existence at any point, with one's apparent past simply being constructed memories; varieties of this include the possibilities of Boltzmann brains and malevolent demons.

This is related to my question on memory skepticism, which I think I might have a solution for. That solution necessitates that the memories in-question refer to actual past events, something which is placed under doubt when considering the possibility of personal omphalism.

So, what arguments exist against personal omphalism?

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  • Why would you believe in personal omphalism to begin with? The fact that there is no argument for it is in and of itself a very good argument against it. It's like asking why I should not believe in the immaterial invisible dragon that throws heatless flames in my garage.
    – armand
    Mar 17, 2023 at 5:41
  • Why "Descartes" tag? Mar 17, 2023 at 9:20
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    @MauroALLEGRANZA: I'm guessing 'malevolent demons' is meant to be a reference to "I suppose there exists an extremely powerful, and, if I may so speak, malignant being, whose whole endeavors are directed toward deceiving me" of Cartesian Scepticism.
    – CriglCragl
    Mar 17, 2023 at 10:28
  • @armand Your opinion that having no argument for something being an argument against that something is a very slippery slope. At the end of the chain of arguments, what arguments have you? If none, then you have an argument against the entire chain, by your logic. Mar 18, 2023 at 12:24
  • @user1113719 you're having it completely backward. It's you who's on a slippery slope. By your logic you now have to believe about every single idea that has no argument for it, and there is an infinity of those: pixies, talking dogs, mermaids... The only reason you apply this very strange epistemic standard only to your pet theory is special pleading, but if you start applying it equally then anything goes. First you need a reason to emit the hypothesis that the world was created 25 minutes ago, something that wouldn't make sense otherwise. Is there such a thing? No. Then why waste your time?
    – armand
    Mar 18, 2023 at 22:12

1 Answer 1

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You cannot prove that personal omphalism is false since by definition, it matches all observations. If it doesn’t, you can just modify it ad hoc. But that makes the theory untestable. Therefore, there is no reason to believe it since you can come up with any number of untestable theories to explain literally any phenomenon ever.

Having no reason to believe something is itself an argument against that position, and that is ultimately all that matters.

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  • You couldn't disprove it empirically, but logically, perhaps? Mar 17, 2023 at 4:45
  • There’s nothing contradictory about the concept.
    – user62907
    Mar 17, 2023 at 4:49
  • Nothing self-contradictory (as far as I can tell), but it may contradict with different frameworks. Mar 17, 2023 at 4:58
  • If it’s not self contradictory it’s not logically contradictory. Therefore it can’t be disproven
    – user62907
    Mar 17, 2023 at 5:22
  • You would have to explain why other people have memories of you from before your supposed 'start' time.
    – Scott Rowe
    Mar 17, 2023 at 9:55

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