Project Description

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Andrew Tweedie


  • Concepts

  • Semantics

  • Manifest Image



Doctoral Student;
Department of Philosophy, Western University

Andrew Tweedie is a doctoral student with the Department of Philosophy at Western University.  He previously studied at the University of Ottawa and at Carleton University, where he received his BA and MA, respectively. 

 Very broadly, he is interested in the conceptual structure of the world as it is made manifest to human beings.  Working from the assumption that this manifest image of the world is largely the product of evolutionary design, he explores the ways in which our manifest image eschews objective representation to emphasize those things which bear most prominently on human interests.  He is similarly interested in the constraints under which our manifest image takes shape.  As a secondary goal, he hopes to outline the various consequences an exploration of our manifest image has for extensional semantics and philosophy of language generally.  To this end, he receives much appreciated support from his supervisors, Robert Stainton and Christopher Viger.

My interest in the conceptual structure of our manifest image began with a concern regarding extensional semantics (roughly, theories which take the meaning of a linguistic item to be the worldly object for which the linguistic item stands).  The concern closely resembles complaints voiced by theorists such as Noam Chomsky and Ray JackendoffSimply put, it is difficult to reconcile extensional semantics with the idea that objects are often conceptually construed in many and various ways particularly in ways which accord more closely with human needs and interests than with robust empirical patterns found in nature.  Because human concepts are so pliable, the ‘objects’ we take to populate the world are often so far-removed from objective patterns that it strains plausibility to think of them as being the referents for linguistic items.  Such objects include, in my view, entities like last night’s hockey score and even limited liability corporations. 

As a result of my dissatisfaction with extensional semantics, I began to think more about the world as it is made manifest to human beings – the world that matters most, so far as language is concerned.  Under the influence of Daniel Dennett, I began to think of the manifest image as a product of evolutionary design, and soon after I concluded that the manifest image is the consequence of a conceptual system whose original purpose was (largely) the organization of concrete experience but had since been jury-rigged so as to make abstract thought possible.  Ever since, I have been trying to make sense of extensional semantics in a way which does not either render it vacuous or threaten to completely divorce the study of language from the study of mind.  Presently, I take great pleasure in thinking about the creative ways in which our seemingly-impoverished conceptual system enables us to grasp complex ‘real patterns’ in the world.

MA Thesis 

Tweedie, A. J. (2015). Reference and Grammar: Reasserting Wittgenstein’s Picture (master’s dissertation). Carleton University, Ottawa.

Fall 2013, Introduction to Logic, Carleton University (TA) 

Winter 2014, Critical Thinking, Carleton University (TA) 

Fall 2014, Issues in Theoretical Philosophy, Carleton University (TA) 

Winter 2015, Introduction to Philosophy of Language, Carleton University (TA) 

Fall 2018, Introduction to Ethics and Value, Western University (TA) 

Winter 2019, Introduction to Environmental Philosophy, Western University (TA) 

Fall 2019, Big Ideas, Western University (TA) 

Winter 2020, Scientific Search for the Mind, Western University (TA) 

Fall 2020, Introduction to Philosophy, Western University (TA)