108 I. 3
Being and Time

But signs, in the first instance, are themselves items of equipment whose specific character as equipment consists in showing or indicating.1 We find such signs in signposts, boundary-stones, the ball for the mariner's storm-warning, signals, banners, signs of mourning, and the like. Indicating can be defined as a 'kind' of referring. Referring is, if we take it as formally as possible, a relating. But relation does not function as a genus for 'kinds' or 'species' of references which may somehow become differentiated as sign, symbol, expression, or signification. A relation is something quite formal which may be read off directly by way of 'formalization' from any kind of context, whatever its subject-matter or its way of Being.ii

Every reference is a relation, but not every relation is a reference. Every 'indication' is a reference, but not every referring is an indicating. This implies at the same time that every 'indication' is a relation, but not every relation is an indicating. The formally general character of relation is thus brought to light. If we are to investigate such phenomena as references, signs, or even significations, nothing is to be gained by characterizing them as relations. Indeed we shall eventually have to show that 'relations' themselves, because of their formally general character, have their ontological source in a reference.

If the present analysis is to be confined to the Interpretation of the sign as distinct from the phenomenon of reference, then even within this [78] limitation we cannot properly investigate the full multiplicity of possible signs. Among signs there are symptoms [Anzeichen], warning signals, signs of things that have happened already [Rückzeichen], signs to mark something, signs by which things are recognized; these have different ways of indicating, regardless of what may be serving as such a sign. From such 'signs' we must distinguish traces, residues, commemorative monuments, documents, testimony, symbols, expressions, appearances, significations. These phenomena can easily be formalized because of their formal relational character; we find it especially tempting nowadays to take such a 'relation' as a clue for subjecting every entity to a kind of 'Interpretation' which always 'fits' because at bottom it says nothing, no more than the facile schema of content and form.

As an example of a sign we have chosen one which we shall use again in a later analysis, though in another regard. Motor cars are sometimes fitted up with an adjustable red arrow, whose position indicates the direction the vehicle will take-at an intersection, for instance. The position of the arrow is controlled by the driver.


1 '... deren spezifischer Zeugcharakter im Zeigen besteht.' While we have often used 'show' and 'indicate' to translate 'zeigen' and 'anzeigen' respectively, in the remainder of this section it seems more appropriate to translate 'zeigen' by 'indicate', or to resort to hendiadys as in the present passage.