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Aboutness is a term used in library and information science (LIS), linguistics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. In LIS, it is often considered synonymous with subject (documents). In the philosophy of mind it has been often considered synonymous with intentionality, perhaps since John Searle (1983). In the philosophy of logic and language it is understood as the way a piece of text relates to a subject matter or topic.

R. A. Fairthorne (1969) is credited with coining the exact term "aboutness", which became popular in LIS since the late 1970s, perhaps due to arguments put forward by William John Hutchins (1975, 1977, 1978). Hutchins argued that "aboutness" was to be preferred to "subject" because it removed some epistemological problems. Birger Hjørland (1992, 1997) argued, however, that the same epistemological problems also were present in Hutchins' proposal, why "aboutness" and "subject" should be considered synonymous.

While information scientists may well be concerned with the literary aboutness (John Hutchins, 1975, 1977, 1978), philosophers of mind and psychologists with the psychological or intentional aboutness (John Searle, 1983) and language of thought (Jerry Fodor, 1975), and semantic externalists with the external state of affairs (Hilary Putnam, 1975). These seminal perspectives are respectively analogous to Ogden and Richards' literary, psychological, and external contexts (1923), as well as Karl Popper's World 1, 2, and 3 (1977).

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