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{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}}

Three turtles of varying sizes stacked on top of each other with the largest at the bottom
The anecdote holds that the world is carried by a chain of increasingly large turtles, and beneath each one is yet another: it is "turtles all the way down".

"Turtles all the way down" is a jocular expression of the infinite regress problem in cosmology posed by the "unmoved mover" paradox. The metaphor in the anecdote represents a popular notion of the theory that Earth is actually flat and is supported on the back of a World Turtle, which itself is propped up by a chain of larger and larger turtles. Questioning what the final turtle might be standing on, the anecdote humorously concludes that it is "turtles all the way down".

The phrase has been commonly known since at least the early 20th century. A comparable metaphor describing the circular cause and consequence for the same problem is the "chicken and egg problem". The same problem in epistemology is known as the Münchhausen trilemma.


Turtles all the way down sections
Intro  History  Notable modern allusions or variations  Footnotes  

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Turtle::world    Story::james    Tortoise::turtles    Title::elephant    Turtles::which    World::earth

{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}}

Three turtles of varying sizes stacked on top of each other with the largest at the bottom
The anecdote holds that the world is carried by a chain of increasingly large turtles, and beneath each one is yet another: it is "turtles all the way down".

"Turtles all the way down" is a jocular expression of the infinite regress problem in cosmology posed by the "unmoved mover" paradox. The metaphor in the anecdote represents a popular notion of the theory that Earth is actually flat and is supported on the back of a World Turtle, which itself is propped up by a chain of larger and larger turtles. Questioning what the final turtle might be standing on, the anecdote humorously concludes that it is "turtles all the way down".

The phrase has been commonly known since at least the early 20th century. A comparable metaphor describing the circular cause and consequence for the same problem is the "chicken and egg problem". The same problem in epistemology is known as the Münchhausen trilemma.


Turtles all the way down sections
Intro  History  Notable modern allusions or variations  Footnotes  

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: History
<<>>