"It seems to me to be no coincidence that among the various directions which contemporary philosophical research has taken, semantics and hermeneutics have assumed particular importance. Both have as their starting point the linguistic form of expression in which our thought is formulated. They no longer pass over the primary form in which our intellectual experience is given. Insofar as both of them deal with the realm of language, it is clear that semantics and hermeneutics alike have a truly universal perspective. For of that which is given in language, what is, on the other hand, not a sign and what, on the other, is not a moment in the process of coming to understand?
Semantic appears to describe the range of linguistic facts externally, as it were, and does so in a way that has made possible the development of a classification of types of behavior with respect to these signs. For this classification we are indebted to the American scholar Charles Morris. Hermeneutics, in contrast, focuses upon the internal side of our use of this world of signs, or better said, on the internal process of speaking, which if viewed from the outside, appears as our use of the world of signs. Both semantics and hermeneutics thematize at some time along their own ways the totality of our relationship to the world that finds its expression in language, and both do this by directing their investigations behind the plurality of natural languages.
The merit of semantic analysis, it seems to me, is that it has brought the structural totality of language to our attention and thereby has pointed out the limitations of the false ideal of unambiguous signs or symbols and of the potential of language for logical formalization. The great value of semantic analysis rests in no small part in the fact that it breaks through the appearance of self-sameness that an isolated word-sign has about it. As a matter of fact, it does this in different ways: first, by making us aware of its synonyms and second, and considerably more important, by demonstrating that an individual word-expression is in no way translatable into other terms or interchangeable with another expression. I consider the second achievement more important because it is based on something that transcends all synonymity" (Gadamer 2008:82-83).
2008 Philosophical Hermeneutics. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
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