- After giving a lecture on the solar system, William James, the American psychologist and philosopher, was approached by an elderly lady. 'We don't live on a ball rotating around the sun', she said, firmly. 'We live on a crust of earth on the back of a giant turtle.' James was a kindly man. 'If your theory is correct, madam, what does this turtle stand on?' he asked patiently. 'The first turtle stands on the back of a second, far larger turtle, of course!' she snorted. 'But what does this second turtle stand on?' pressed the philosopher. 'It's no use, Mr. James', crowed the old lady triumphantly, 'it's turtles all the way down!'. -
I found this paragraph in my usual source of quotes (have to keep it secret otherwise P&P is ruined). I find the punchline very funny. What I like much less is the way of depicting the philosopher as the patient gentleman who possesses Truth and the old lady as an ignorant and arrogant Cow. For all I know, we are living in the left nostril of a giant turtle.