Citizen Steele

Excerpts & Highlights

Peter Shaindlin


Philosophical propositions are not ‘facts,’ but are in fact alleged ‘truths.’ (Propositions cannot be facts as they cannot be substantiated by corroborative information; therefore at best they are ‘truths,’ and then only to he who wishes to believe them, regardless of his motive.)

Even in the case of a perfect or near-perfect idea, it cannot ultimately be expressed perfectly or accurately due to the imperfections of every language, which whether by oral, written or other form cannot be conveyed with adequate accuracy to a level where the ‘truth’ of the idea may be communicated as originally intended. If we assume that the imperfections of language will always naturally corrupt or pervert a given thought, than every thought expressed through language must therefore be inherently corrupt and perverted, so then every philosophical thought must be misrepresented in and of itself—ironically due at least in part to the failure of language in terms of accurate or sufficient expression.

Wittgenstein was largely concerned with the damage to thought incurred during its conversion process from thought into language. He proposed that this unavoidable failure was the key problem of philosophy and that that is what needed to be solved in order to allow for the accurate expression of philosophical thought. Wittgenstein became preoccupied with the idea of the language conversion issue as being the primary problem of philosophy, vis à vis expression and accuracy of that expression and also its related and inherent limitations.

The linguistic expression of philosophical thought is a secondary or ‘functional’ aspect relative to the sharing of ideas. A more vital and primary issue of ‘philosophical conversion’ is actually that of ‘practical’ or ‘useful’ conversion. This involves the idea that philosophy only has a value if and when it is functionally applied to the individual being and/or society in general. In most cases philosophy is consumed and contemplated by a select, educated few; only rarely is it seized upon in ways which actually alter the world we live in.

Because of the public’s general disinterest in and inability to process and utilize most philosophical offerings, most philosophical output remains unutilized and therefore valueless—if or until it ever is. Most philosophy is treated abstractly for the general purpose of private enrichment and contemplation and is rarely employed by individuals in position of power to affect its ideas in practical ways which might benefit individuals or the public overall. (This is the single greatest crisis of philosophy and always has been.)

A philosophical statement is not ‘a fact’ as Wittgenstein proposed; it is a proposition put forth as a ‘newly-identified truth’ with the conviction of the given philosopher in question the sole professor of the ‘truth.’

No one philosophical proposition can hope to function purely, as countless combinations of such propositions may be combined and modified and exist at minimum by sheer inference or implication, even devoid of declaration.

The combining and/or modification of philosophical propositions does not necessarily dictate their dilution; but it is impossible to guarantee that any two or more positive propositions in and of themselves will have a positive outcome if combined in implementation.

In the absence of practical implementation all philosophical propositions are without current value. Therefore all philosophers are without value if and until the time that their ideas are employed.

Great philosophy, impactful philosophy must include in its genesis the human condition. Whether intentionally or not,Wittgenstein deceived us in the end. He has provided an explanation for the inability of the philosophical idea to transcend the restrictions of language—but does philosophy’s existence itself require any explanation? I have already proposed the idea that ‘not everything can be explained.’ Wittgenstein has proposed an ‘orderly’ solution. Was this simply his Teutonic tendency? There are solutions in chaos, and art is often chaotic and at best, imperfect.

Ultimately, whether a ‘language’ is expressed by visual symbols or via the spoken word, each symbol or utterance has in common that it is a ‘symbol’ that represents an idea, or the notion of an idea i.e., an object, etc.

This idea of Wittgenstein that his solution might come closer to addressing the core problem of philosophy ironically reinforces it due to his projecting philosophical ‘solutions’ of a purely theoretical/intellectual argumentative approach that hold no practical value even for one who might believe in it. Unless philosophical ideas in and of themselves possess sufficient practicality to offer actionable constructive solutions within society, they hold no true value beyond theoretical folly.

(W.): …let us suppose that the function F(fx) could be its own argument: in that case there would be a proposition ‘F(F(fx))’, in which the outer function F and the inner function F must have different meanings, since the inner one has the form O(f(x)) and the outer one has the form Y(O(fx)). Only the letter ‘F’ is common to the two functions, but the letter by itself signifies nothing. This immediately becomes clear if instead of ‘F(Fu)’ we write ‘(do) : F(Ou) . Ou = Fu’. That disposes of Russell's paradox.

(Steele): This cannot be so: a function can indeed contain itself. It is, to Sartre’s argument, of-itself and therefore relevant to itself in that it exists wholly as itself and not necessarily for any other purpose than that it does de facto exist in quod of ipsum. It does not dispose of Russell’s paradox—I believe that here Wittgenstein makes a major, egregious blunder: he willingly and knowingly sacrifices the integrity of his argument and in turn his philosophy by using the question of a function being its own argument to attack his loyal supporter and mentor and in a petty manner at that. Russell’s earlier attempts upon Cantor’s theory regarding the actuality of sets reflected an investigation or perhaps merely an exploration whereas Wittgenstein’s response to Russell was an outright pernicious repudiation. Furthermore, his attack upon Russell was in effect an advance attack on Sartre.

Philosophers should not attack each other; they are all in the end performing the same long symphony. But they thrive on this.

Languages are only translated into another either for the sake of sharing of information/art, ideas etc. or for the sake of providing explanations to third parties who do not understand the initial language. Therefore Wittgenstein’s idea that any ‘correct’ sign language must be translatable in accordance with rules… is only so within the context of one or both of these two purposes.


In the presence of genuinely brilliant thought, feeling is dispensable at least to the extent that the logical validation of a given theorem is not diminished or negated in almost any instance by the absence of emotion within the activity scope of logical thought. Even though an implied or intended thought not subsequently expressed is a real thought, it serves no purpose and holds no value per se if not linguistically communicated. Wittgenstein understood this and in this regard the significance and relationship of language to philosophy is legitimate. However, as such, language is still strictly a functional tool and only expressive in that it expresses something, yet in the end it can never express itself. Language can express the sublime but it in of itself is not consistently sublime for it is inconsistent, which confirms in one way its pluralism versus say an inanimate object—or in rarer cases, an inanimate idea. Language in simple terms is no more than a way to get things, less frequently to bestow things. Neither of these efforts relate harmoniously with the idea of philosophy.

An inanimate idea would be the perfect expression of infinity as a conscious state of mind, or more succinctly put, a parallax portal by which one could stop living momentarily in organic terms, perhaps long enough to exchange ideas with God.


We do not wish to celebrate the powerless aspects of our lives.


We have abandoned the value of forgetfulness. Instead we insist upon remembering; remembering everything possible. We regularly seize upon this cerebral attic of information with the intent of making ‘educated’ decisions in the futile interest of self-protection.


As we can only hope to protect ourselves at best for the period in which we are living, we cannot protect ourselves from death. A valuable question would be, can death protect itself against us? It appears not: we consistently violate its sanctity and mystery with no clear purpose and immeasurable regret. Death is the one spectacular constant in life. It would appear for one that death as an energy force is not altered by the volume upon which it is consumed by humans and virtually all other species. Whether a single soul or an entire metropolis realizes its mortality at one time, death does not appear to alter or reveal itself as a singular or penetrable condition; it is the ultimate constant. It is not that we do not know anything certain about death; it is that we never will. Death is the mother; the universe is home.


Every man is a failure and most are cowards as well. But those free of cowardice change thought and therefore, culture. They leave their mark in steel and their voice across the heavens in blazes of energy and light. As all men are to some extent cowardly, however, the true definition of a hero is a man who confesses his cowardice. This is the first and last act of truth. There are no falsehoods—they are indefinable; the idea of falseness is but an insidious expression of fear. There are only truths and as such they do not require an opposite in order to exist.

Not everything can be explained. There is thought and so there is reason, and so there is hope. But as thought itself is non-atomic and therefore devoid of any concrete manifested practical virtue, strictly speaking its ability to affect society is through ehaviour. Once we decide that something matters/mattered, it matters, i.e. we have placed prima facie value on it. So, if it has negative implications either by sheer virtue of its nature or by how we reacted to it or addressed it, the idea of ‘what mattered’ is then transformed into the idea of a ‘problem.’


There are three realities as relates to the cognitive human mind. At the core and unadulterated by thought there is the horrific ‘ignored reality’ which encompasses virtually everything that we do not wish to consciously consider: things scatological; death, waste, carnage, mutilation, genocide and the like. They are a constant and permanent part of our daily lives yet we compartmentalize them in order to be able to bear living. There is also a ‘collective perception’ encompassing all things bearable to pleasant—this is the general state of mind in which we choose to live our lives. The third reality, ‘fantasy,’ is the world in which we imagine what our lives would be if we could have things our way. Experienced in periodic bursts—whether acted out or imagined—it is blended into our otherwise mundane overall existence so as to enhance the general quality of our daily lives. Embraced consistently however, the person is neurotic, psychotic or insane depending on the intensity and scope of the fantasies at hand. Ironically however the latter often includes the undeniable perversities of the ‘ignored reality’ which the rest of us lack the courage to live through. This is the foundation of the collective cowardice that is essential to the coping ability of all humanity.


I found myself drifting instantly into an altered state of consciousness within which my senses, devoid of any actual stimulus relative to the ideas and objects which my mind spontaneously conjured, nevertheless instantly spawned virgin impressions which, penetrating my sensory integuments with effortless abandon provided irrefutable alternative stimulation under the circumstances.

To imagine is to create, and whether one imagines that picture as the one who declared it or from the perspective of the observer, each participant creates an image in his own mind of the same idea—whether or not he agrees with it as a truth. But Wittgenstein declared in effect that the picture is a truth because it exists, or that is to say, the picture bears certain truthfulness in and of itself based simply on the fact that it exists at all. This is not to suggest a ‘noble’ truth; only a truth in that it is truthful that the thought now exists; it is something. If a scientist sees a fish on a table he knows it is a fish. If he then chooses to examine a piece of that fish under the microscope he will observe minute details of the fish but he already knows it is a fish.


There is a certain rhythm to language, one that ironically plays itself out most conspicuously to those who do not know the language at all. This is the audio undulation as it were that provides each language its organic foundation of communication upon which specific ideas may be laid out in intellectual counterpoint to the musical pulse beneath it. Wittgenstein failed to recognize this aspect of language, or at least to consider its role as a marker in relation to his deconstruction of linguistic elements relative to the expression of philosophical ideas. It is as important as words and ideas themselves in that the shifting tonalities formed by strings of words collectively espousing ideas would not have the same meaning in the absence of such inflections.

I strode in a leisurely gait down the pristine strand of powdered sand that tapered away magnificently before me into a serpentine wisp. The waters of the tropical gulf were calm, rippling gently under the touch of a supple summer breeze. Moon had come to me the night before in my cell and taken my hand to lead me to this beach. Her blood-red silk crimson gown contrasted severely against the blurred aquamarine waters and blinding white shoreline before us. She talked to me, calmed me. Moon suggested that I had nothing to fear no matter how things turned out with my arrest or indictment. We stopped and stood together, our bare feet caressed by the cool foamy ocean waters. I stood shorter than her and gently laid my cheek against her soft, warm breast and closed my eyes. I could feel her heart beating slowly and rhythmically. Her skin smelled of bergamot, saffron, sweet lavender. Light faint raindrops were falling upon us. For the first time I knew that bliss was not a mood but simply rather one particular state of inspired consciousness.

An expression has meaning only in a proposition. All variables can be construed as propositional variables. (Even variable names.)

This is not entirely correct. If I were to say ‘I am tired’ it by nature may be judged a preposition yet it is also a condition and therefore a fact. But if an element of doubt is by nature part of the expression as in ‘I think I’m tired,’ then it may or may not be a fact even though it has been expressed (therefore an ‘expression’) and may also be a condition. Accordingly, not every fact represents an expression. For example, ‘that’s hot’ is not only possibly an expression; it is also possibly a fact and also an observation. But if it is a fact then it is no longer merely a proposition in and of itself. This also reveals that none of the three respective qualities or characteristics of an expression—an expression, a fact or an observation—are mutually exclusive whatsoever. Mathematics would substantiate that there are many diverse combinations of these three qualities—but more importantly that their combinations do not necessarily always directly correlate with the particular nature and verifiability of a given expression.


“The child learns by believing the adult. Doubt comes after belief.” (W.)

It therefore seems inevitable that, in providing information to children and given that a great amount of information is incorrect (for various reasons) in and of itself, it is inevitable that adults eventually corrupt their own children. Am I therefore at risk of losing my freedom or worse merely by virtue of the fact that I am fundamentally misinformed?


For me, enchantment is a collective human emotion shepherded forth between willing souls who share a rapturous vulnerability to beauty. I am reminded … that we do not actually ‘discover’ art—rather, it is cast forth independently of any specific audience and not for audience’s sake but for reasons that vary widely and will only ever be completely known to the artist himself, if at all. The viewer or collector performs an act after-the-fact; his interaction with the art—whether via acquisition or merely by contemplation does not change the creation itself; it is a personal love affair mysterious as such which will always remain the private purview of the creator. A person can never truly understand the very nature of his own creation—it is the result, or victim as it were, of circumstances. As a portrayal of circumstance the art and the viewer have these things in common.

Friendship is really only an idea conjured up randomly as the result of arbitrary, unanticipated feelings.

There is a black man in the cell to my right. He is going to be executed some time soon. He simply sits, all day, every day on the same spot on the edge of his cot staring off into space. He is mainly upset because upon his arrival six weeks ago he learned that smoking is prohibited in the facility for health reasons. As a capital punishment inmate he finds this objectionable. Ironically, our guards all have to step outside to smoke on their breaks. On my other side the cell has remained empty, otherwise looking identical to my own. When I look at it from within the bars of mine it is like a photograph depicting the quality and confines of my own existence.

Wittgenstein’s assertion regarding the natural limitations of value allowed me to better understand my current plight and the fact that, regardless of my actual role in any key events impacting my life or others’, I was naturally exonerated not only from guilt but responsibility by sheer virtue of the anterior essence of ‘values:’

6.41 The sense of the world must lie outside the world. In the world everything is as it is, and everything happens as it does happen: in it no value exists—and if it did exist, it would have no value. If there is any value that does have value, it must lie outside the whole sphere of what happens and is the case. For all that happens and is the case is accidental. What makes it non-accidental cannot lie within the world, since if it did it would itself be accidental. It must lie outside the world.

He portrayed these ostensibly negative aspects as fundamental and pervasive human qualities, and intellectualism as a nervous habit and expression of gifted people who represent a scant minority of human kind. The true tragedy, he explained, is that our primal instincts and tendencies will always in the end outpower our thoughts—no matter how much those thoughts continue to develop and refine themselves. Desire will trump ideas. Therefore ultimately, philosophy will continue to characterize mankind and society yet never effectively transcend it.

He explained that we who were gathered here were in a separate place and that one was able to be present in this place if and only if he possessed the ability to live in an absence of desire. This he said was entirely different than a philosophical or religious epiphany or consciousness in that it did not necessarily involve the belief in or role of a solution, Godhead or any dogma. In fact, in our case—whether intentionally or not—our inspiration and reverence was in regard to nature rather than to any divinity.


The laws of any modern society relating to violent crime are conceived and enforced based on fear: fear that such a crime can actually happen to the individual embodying that fear—that is who writes the law to address it.

In his heart, every man has slain his mother a thousand times. I am no exception—although to do so is certainly not a crime. But I have not ever, and will never be charged with this crime because it is only an idea. Whether or not it is a ‘good’ idea is irrelevant. Such ideas in the very least are ‘valid’ ideas as they represent unadulterated reactions to human conditions—such reactions we are permitted within the sphere of fallible human thought. The extent to which one weighs them out with respect to the morals and principles of common society will determine one’s ability—and permissibility—to be allowed to continue to function within that society with conventional freedoms.

A man who has violated the laws of society has effectively failed society but not necessarily himself. Morals are of the masses, ethics the provenance of the individual. With this in mind I am further convinced of the legitimacy of my current disposition and the absurdity of my current situation notwithstanding the subjective judgment of others. Wittgenstein addressed this effectively in terms of ethical conundrums.

Moral codes are not created and enforced because they bear noble or beneficent qualities—they are introduced as fearful reactions to threats to our physical and psychological well-being. Again, it appears we must protect ourselves from life, for we have already established that we cannot protect ourselves from death. Assuming that death will cause life to cease eternally, if we eliminate as much as possible the untold unpleasantries of life we cannot be happy because without those, nothing can be ‘pleasant’ in the absence of a logically-contrasting concurrent condition.

Wittgenstein notes:

“6.422 When an ethical law of the form, '’Thou shalt ...’ is laid down, one’s first thought is, ‘And what if I do not do it?’ It is clear, however, that ethics has nothing to do with punishment and reward in the usual sense of the terms. So our question about the consequences of an action must be unimportant.—At least those consequences should not be events. For there must be something right about the question we posed. There must indeed be some kind of ethical reward and ethical punishment, but they must reside in the action itself. (And it is also clear that the reward must be something pleasant and the punishment something unpleasant.)”


Generally lawyers are bores: they share an unwritten code of feigned general superiority—they equate their prior academic acumen with superior intellect, yet in doing so they obviate the abstract aspect of innate intellectual capability in favor of strategy as an enduring value.

The unattractive, puppet-like heads of my various colleagues bobbed about, their lips moving in the type of conversation that lawyers enjoy, always the subtlest smirk on their face as they proffered some atavistic comportment that made them to feel smarter than those around them.


It was always hard for me to imagine Sartre wanting to construct a play, as the medium naturally limits or at least controls to a great extent the nature of thought; that is to say, a play lacks any real spontaneity other than at the time of its creation, and perhaps also in the embellishments by the actors, as inherently restrictive as those may be.



What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.

Descend lower, descend only
Into the world of perpetual solitude,

World not world, but that which is not world,

Internal darkness, deprivation
And destitution of all property,
Desiccation of the world of sense,
Evacuation of the world of fancy,
Inoperancy of the world of spirit;

This is the one way, and the other
Is the same, not in movement
But abstention from movement; while the world moves
In appetency, on its metalled ways
Of time past and future.

I soar unto the castions
And bend to heaven’s roar
Within the ether’s moist and lovely belt
Cushioned by the Alpine air
Soon I shall leave: I will move to Arcombe forever and every day enjoy the sea; I shall perish there free from the inanity, from the fearful and the scaffolds.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God.

We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.

As time progressed, sitting in my cell I began to experience unparalleled freedom. Gazing up at the rectangular borders of the old plaster ceiling I recognized the infinite length of the lines that defined it. They reached far beyond the confines of this city and the farthest reaches of my dreams. They resonated with the fears and passions of the occupants they were inadvertently assigned to contain and cast outwardly the defective qualities of the system that imposed them.

It is difficult to successfully mine the roots of ones own adult agony as relates to past experiences that may constitute a shrouded yet undeniable platform for current behavioral toxicity. I store my memories in clear glass jars. My periodic amnesia is much like a wall that blocks my ability to return to the past with a view towards coercing the future. Only occasionally does my memory return to provide me a door to what was and what may have long ago made me what I am in moments unbeknownst to me.

I am incarcerated by virtue of the law and I am an expert at the law, yet none of my legal knowledge can help me now in any way—unless I am to represent myself.