110 I. 3
Being and Time

But simply to establish this Fact is ontologically insufficient. The basis and the meaning of this special status must be clarified.

What do we mean when we say that a sign "indicates"? We can answer this only by determining what kind of dealing is appropriate with equipment for indicating. And we must do this in such a way that the readiness-to-hand of that equipment can be genuinely grasped. What is the appropriate way of having-to-do with signs? Going back to our example of the arrow, we must say that the kind of behaving (Being) which corresponds to the sign we encounter, is either to 'give way' or to 'stand still' vis-a-vis the car with the arrow. Giving way, as taking a direction, belongs essentially to Dasein's Being-in-the-world. Dasein is always somehow directed [ausgerichtet] and on its way; standing and waiting are only limiting cases of this directional 'on-its-way'. The sign addresses itself to a Being-in-the-world which is specifically 'spatial'. The sign is not authentically 'grasped' ["erfasst"] if we just stare at it and identify it as an indicator-Thing which occurs. Even if we tum our glance in the direction which the arrow indicates, and look at something present-at-hand in the region indicated, even then the sign is not authentically encountered. Such a sign addresses itself to the circumspection of our concernful dealings, and it does so in such a way that the circumspection which goes along with it, following where it points, brings into an explicit 'survey' whatever aroundness the environment may have at the time. This circumspective survey does not grasp the ready-to-hand; what it achieves is rather an orientation within our environment. There is also another way in which we can experience equipment: we may encounter the arrow simply as equipment which belongs to the car. We can do this without discovering what character it specifically has as equipment: what the arrow is to indicate and how it is to do so, may remain completely undetermined; yet what we are encountering is not a mere Thing. The experiencing of a Thing requires a definiteness of its own [ihre eigene Bestimmtheit], and must be contrasted with coming across a manifold of equipment, which may often be quite indefinite, even when one comes across it as especially close.

Signs of the kind we have described let what is ready-to-hand be encountered; more precisely, they let some context of it become accessible in such a way that our concernful dealings take on an orientation and hold [80] it secure. A sign is not a Thing which stands to another Thing in the relationship of indicating; it is rather an item of equipment which explicitly raises a totality of equipment into our circumspection so that together with it the worldly character of the ready-to-hand announces itself. In a symptom or a warning-signal, 'what is coming' 'indicates itself', but not in the sense of something merely occurring, which comes as an addition to what is already present-at-hand; 'what is coming' is the sort of thing which we are ready for, or which we 'weren't ready for' if we have been attending to something else.1


1 '... das "was kommt" ist solches, darauf wir uns gefasst machen, bzw. "nicht gefasst waren", sofern wir uns mit anderem befassten.'