Photo of Cherie Braden

APA Member Interview: Cherie Braden

Cherie Braden is a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Colorado Boulder and an affiliated scholar in philosophy at Kenyon College.

Tell me about yourself.

I love epistemology and other puzzles. I also love people. Not all people. Some of them. I contain myself. Isn’t that funny? You can contain yourself. Don’t believe yourself when you say you can’t. That is, don’t believe yourself when you say you can’t contain yourself. I’m not sure what you should believe when you say you can’t believe yourself.  I enjoy good-natured shenanigans.

What are you writing at the moment?  

I am co-editing (with Branden Fitelson and Rodrigo Borges) a festschrift of epistemology essays in honor of my mentor and favorite philosopher, Peter D. Klein. Thanks to Peter’s unforgettable influence on the field, we have an excellent group of contributors. Look for this volume in 2018.

This is a short exercise in giving up control over the speed at which you read. It requires patience. I also write for Tropics of Meta.

And philosophical writing? Forthcoming.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new talent, what would you most like it to be?

Mind reading. I like to fix things.

If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?

I would want to know for certain that there are men in this world who fully appreciate and respect the human dignity of women—in public, in private, when all alone in front of their computer screens, and in their hearts of hearts (where the first set of hearts is smaller than the second set). I take it on faith that there are, but wouldn’t it be nice to answer the skeptic on this one?

What is your favorite film of all time? 

Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

What advice do you wish someone had given you?

I tend to ignore advice and learn things the hard way. I may well have been given this advice. But here you go.

  1. I have come to believe that nothing really makes sense to people except the things they already know. If you’re saying something new, it isn’t going to make perfect sense to everyone. That isn’t to say you should be an obscurantist or you should disregard criticism. Of course you should try to be comprehensible. But there is nothing wrong with asking your readers to stretch for something that is not beyond reach, even though they won’t always do it.
  2. If you think, “I’ll play the game now, and I’ll do it my way later,” good luck with that. We do things the way we practiced them. I learned that from choir.

What’s your top tip or advice for APA members reading this?

There are many more problem-solving jobs in this world than there are good problem solvers. (“What? That’s not advice.” Better cookie next time.)

Don’t pretend that you don’t know what people mean when you do know but they didn’t say it your way (or correctly). That’s cheap.

Don’t clap for fish. You have dignity. Doing what you must is not the same as clapping for fish.

Being good is more important than being good at things. Subsume efforts at the second under efforts at the first.

Never give up.

We are responsible for the happiness of others. But happiness is also overrated. Love is most of what we need.

I think it might be nice if each person thought of herself, “I am capable of pulling myself up by my own bootstraps,” but realized of everyone else that this isn’t possible.

Read more about Cherie here

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This section of the APA Blog is designed to get to know our fellow philosophers a little better. We’re including profiles of APA members that spotlight what captures their interest not only inside the office, but also outside of it. We’d love for you to be a part of it, so please contact us via the interview nomination form here.