While reading through the book on logics. I came across this paragraph.

Paragraph is as-is from the book: Outline of Logic (Schaum's)

At this point we give a rigorous formulation of the intended interpretation (semantics) of the five logical operators. The semantics of an expression is its contribution to the truth or falsity of sentences in which it occurs.

I am little bit confuse here with the usage of the word semantics. As far as I know, intended interpretation has more to do with hermeneutics than semantics. Upon looking for the definition of both the words, I got little bit more confused.

Merriam Webster defines hermeneutic as "a method or principle of interpretation." and semantic as "of or relating to meaning in language. "

My Question: Intended interpretation means semantics or hermeneutics?

  • The clue may be in adding the word intended, which for the author might suggest what the operators literally mean (semantics) as opposed to how another might interpret them (hermeneutics). That said, I recommend asking on the Philosophy Stack Exchange, as they would be able to say whether the author is making a more profound point about hermeneutics and semantics than common usage can tell us. – TaliesinMerlin Jan 31 at 14:30
  • Your comment suggest that author used the word correctly. Your definition for the word hermeneutics- "how another might interpret them" makes it more clear that choice of the word semantics (meaning literally) is what author in trying to intend. – GATECSE Jan 31 at 14:39
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  • @FumbleFingers thank you so much. I will go through the provided links :) – GATECSE Jan 31 at 15:02
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    OOPSIE!!! Well, the comment is too old now for me to edit, but I'll leave it there because the other parts are relevant. In my own opinion, hermeneutic is usually a hi-falutin' term with overtones of hermetic, and the interpretation of "sacred texts" by the priesthood. So I wouldn't use it myself unless I particularly wanted to put that spin on things. But for your context I think it's really a matter of opinion, rather than dictionary definitions. – FumbleFingers Jan 31 at 15:18

In the context of the disciplines of mathematical or philosophical logic,


is the domain of the relation between the form of a statement and the interpretations it can be given. Here, an interpretation is really a mapping (a mathematical function) from variables to (usually) truth values. These terms, semantics, interpretation, function, all have very precise stipulated meanings.

In the context of literary analysis,


is the general study of the interpretation of literary texts, especially religious texts (synonymous with exegesis) and more recently any kind of literature.

Semantics here is more about the very specific truth values like in propositional or predicate calculus. Hermeneutics is more general and is more of a label of a field of literary analysis rather than any particular passage or phrase.

The easier distinction: semantics is used in math, philosophy, and linguistics and hermeneutics in literature and religion.

In your example, 'semantics' is the only really choice. Hermeneutics would be a jarring irrelevancy.

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