Immanentize The Eschaton: It’s Turtles All The Way Down

From Turbo Pascal 4.0/5.0, Walter Savitch introduces Chapter 14, “Problem solving Using Recursion,” with the following story.

After a lecture on cosmology and the structure of the solar system, William James was accosted by a little old lady.

“Your theory that the sun is the center of the solar system, and the earth is a ball which rotates around it has a very convincing ring to it, Mr James, but it’s wrong. I’ve a better theory,” said the little old lady.

“And what is that, Madam?” inquired James politely.

“That we live on a crust of earth which is on the back of a giant turtle.”

Not wishing to demolish this absurd little theory by bringing to bear the masses of scientific evidence he had at his command, James decided to gently dissuade his opponent by making her see some of the inadequacies of her position.

“If your theory is correct, madam,” he asked, “what does this turtle stand on?”

“You’re a very clever man, Mr. James, and that’s a very good question,” replied the little old lady, “but I have an answer to it. And it is this: the first turtle stands on the back of a second, far larger turtle, who stands directly under him.”

“But what does this second turtle stand on?” persisted James patiently.

To this the little old lady crowed triumphantly. “It’s no use, Mr. James, – it’s turtles all the way down.”

Bring on the clowns to immanentize the eschaton.


Sarah Palin and Donald Trump

11 Responses to Immanentize The Eschaton: It’s Turtles All The Way Down

  1. Trained Observer says:

    Off Topic: Sentencing this morning for Daniel Holtzcaw, the now ex-cop in Oklahoma City who made a specialty of targeting black women for sexual assault.

  2. Malisha says:

    Oh I love that iteration of the story. I had “turtles all the way down” as a verbal expression for a long time and could never remember the source of it, while understanding the idea of it. At one point I thought it had been a tribal (did not know what tribe or what geographical region of earth) “origin belief” but couldn’t locate it (this was in pre-internet times) and eventually gave up, thinking I was the only person who had ever heard it. Now you reminded me of “turtles all the way down” and I googled it and had a wonderful time re-remembering things related to it.

    The only problem I see in the TrumPalin Universe is that they’re gonna care about our freedom so much that one of these days they’re gonna carpet bomb one of the turtles we’re sittin’ on topuv.

  3. gblock says:

    Both seem to value speaking their minds than they do speaking truthfully or having anything of value to say.

  4. Two sides to a story says:

  5. bettykath says:

    I wondered where you were going with this. LOL. Great allegory!

    • Gracias.

      The idea began early this morning while I was listening to Dead & Company perform Terrapin Station New Years Eve. Then I did a little research on the lyrics . . .

      Starts with Lady with a Fan at 27:10

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