"It's Memes, Memes, Memes - All The Way Down!"
"It's Memes, Memes, Memes - All The Way Down!" - The Great Turtle
Translation: Everything is an idea.
A quote by Russell Wright that is a reversal of a cosmology quote that started as an urban legend- of an indian woman when asked on her deathbed about her beliefs on the afterlife said (to a skeptical atheist trying to corner her) "It's turtles turtles all the way down". The reversal of this quote implies the true nature of belief as "infinitely stacked (fractal) ideas that humans invent biologically, personally and culturally. Epimemetics is the study of "big Ideas" and how they influence cultural evolution.
See the complete Turtles All The Way Down Metaphor:
There are many versions of the “turtle” story. Here is one of the best known:
“William James, father of American psychology, tells of meeting an old lady who told him the Earth rested on the back of a huge turtle. "But, my dear lady", Professor James asked, as politely as possible, "what holds up the turtle?" "Ah", she said, "that's easy. He is standing on the back of another turtle." "Oh, I see", said Professor James, still being polite. "But would you be so good as to tell me what holds up the second turtle?" "It's no use, Professor", said the old lady, realizing he was trying to lead her into a logical trap. "It's turtles-turtles-turtles, all the way!”
— from Wilson, R.A. (1983, 1997) Prometheus Rising. Phoenix, AZ: New Falcon Publishers, 1983.
"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 myth 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.
The origins of the turtle story are uncertain. It has been recorded since the mid 19th century, and may possibly date to the 18th. One recent version appears in Stephen Hawking's 1988 book A Brief History of Time, which starts:
A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got 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 gave a superior smile before replying, "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!"
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