Original Pic : Professor Murmann
The Cape of Good Hope is the legendary home of The Flying Dutchman, a legendary ghost ship that can never make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever. Crewed by tormented and damned ghostly sailors, it is doomed forever to beat its way through the adjacent waters without ever succeeding in rounding the headland. Sightings in the 19th and 20th centuries reported the ship to be glowing with ghostly light. If hailed by another ship, the crew of the Flying Dutchman will try to send messages to land, or to people long dead. In ocean lore, the sight of the phantom ship is a portent of doom.
“Turtles all the way down” is a jocular expression of the infinite regress problem in cosmology posed by the “unmoved mover” paradox.
The expression is an illustration of the concept of Anavastha in Indian philosophy, and refers to the defect of infinite regress in any philosophical argument. It is a widely accepted principle in Indian philosophy, used to reject arguments for a creator God or “unmoved mover”.
When you are having an argument and you see your logic begin to fail, you can use this phrase to automatically win. This of course only works if the reference is understood.
The phrase originates from a conversation that occured directly after a speech which described how the earth revolves around the sun.
At the end of the speech an elderly lady stood up and said,
“What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.”
The scientist then smugly asked,
“What is the tortoise standing on?”
“You’re very clever, young man, very clever”, said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”
This anecdote was made “popular” by Stephen Hawking, who told it at the begining of his book “A Brief History of Time.”
Reads and References :
(CC) 2016 Tysilyn Fernandez