Episode 11 Clarity Would be Nice!

  • Posted on: 31 August 2017
  • By: C.J.
Welcome to the eleventh podcast! Clarity Would be Nice (so let's get religion).

Sorry for the delay. I hope it was worth it, as the eleventh episode looks at religion and gets fuzzy.


C.J.'s picture

Welcome to Self Help for Robots. I'm your host, C.J. Pitchford, and this is the long-delayed eleventh episode! Sorry about the delay but I think it’s been worth it—I’ve turned 50 and seen a total eclipse of the sun. I’ve also been working on a new dimension to the Orthographic Model of Emotions.

One that is completely different from the rest.

This episode is called “Clarity would be nice” and…

I’m going to get religious!

I don’t mean to say I found religion, or, that I have *founded* a religion! Wow, those are two superficially similar statements that are really miles apart in meaning!

Although, here and now, both could be true, in a sense… In the sense that an “update” to Madhyamika Buddhist thought could be called a “religion”?

Let’s get back to Clarity and start there, the first of the Four Aspirations. What are the Four Aspirations? I’m glad I asked. Reviewing the Noble Eightfold Path, I began to pair the exhortations and came up with Four Aspirations:


And as each of these ideals has both an inner and an outer view, if you will, like a positive inner temperament balanced with an outer positive comportment, literally borrowed from Buddha’s original “right livelihood and right effort” written for a different time and different audience.

But for me, right now (that’s all I’m talking about, really!) I like having aspirations such as—and bear with me on this—clear perception and clear context or understanding realizing light goals—and living lightly as well—motivated by a positive temperament and promoting positivity; all can help me develop a deep grounded focus (meditation, really) and a life grounded historically but not stuck in my past.

I should repeat the highpoints of the Four Aspirations, just to emphasize the cyclical connections starting with CLARITY, both in perception of how things are and in the context of what happened and could possibly happen, needs to be buoyed upwards with LIGHT ambitions and not heavy-handed rules. But the rules that one does live by should also be light on one’s self as well as on one’s environment, and easy on others, too! And that requires having a POSITIVE outlook, and holding one’s self positively as well. Possibly in a dialectic where one is lightly viewing their own strengths and weaknesses. And meditating on those can keep one GROUNDED, with a life clearly lived in balance! The wheel keeps turning!

Now, how did I get from


to the Orthographic Model of Emotions?

Well, to recap: the three axes of the model are GAIN (with values ranging from positive, neutral, to negative), DOMAIN (inner, boundary, and outer), and EVENT (past, present, and future).

But clarity is more binary! Ambiguity is the opposite of the definition of clarity. I wanted to add another axis to the model, but instead, the next dimension of the scale can be represented by a sharp point for clarity or a hazy outline for ambiguity. There might be a lot of play about the boundary between clarity and vagueness, but it seems that a simple binary scale can be used to determine if an emotion is clear or not.

Because it’s good to be clear about what you feel. And for a robot, even when it’s not clear but vague, there has to be some way to represent that in a model.

The model itself is still orthographic. A change in CLARITY is independent of changes in the other axes. But in fact, the model can truly include mixed feelings. Previously and rather obviously, I spoke about the simultaneous experience of multiple—even contradictory—emotions, and it is not impossible. Like experiencing both trust and disgust at the same time, despite being opposite in every measurable factor. Each independent emotion could be modeled and therefore expressed or understood algorithmically.

And by adding a bit of fuzzy math to the model, we can examine how a single, vague feeling can have multiple points, say, on a scale of GAIN—being positive, neutral, and negative—all at the same time.

Emotions are complex, but replicable!

Remember, if you’re struggling with depression or anxiety or any irrational feelings that are bothering you, please seek out a mental health professional that you trust!

As always, robots and non-robots keep helping yourself.

C.J. Pitchford, Paracounselor