Turtles All the Way Down


Turtles all the way down‘ is a jocular expression of the infinite regress problem in cosmology. The joke goes as follows: An Eastern guru affirms that the earth is supported on the back of a tiger. When asked what supports the tiger, he says it stands upon an elephant; and when asked what supports the elephant he says it is a giant turtle. When asked, finally, what supports the giant turtle, he is briefly taken aback, but quickly replies ‘Ah, after that it is turtles all the way down.’

The phrase was popularized by Stephen Hawking in 1988. The ‘turtle’ metaphor in the anecdote represents a popular notion of a primitive cosmological myth, viz. the flat earth supported on the back of a World Turtle.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.