77 I. III
Being and Time

itself has its ontological origin in reference because of its formal, universal character.

If this analysis is limited to an interpretation of the sign as distinct from the phenomenon of reference, even within this limitation, the [78] full multiplicity of possible signs cannot be adequately investigated. Among signs there are symptoms, signs pointing backward as well as forward, marks, hallmarks whose way of indicating is different regardless of what it is that serves as a sign. We should differentiate these signs from the following: traces, residues, monuments, documents, certificates, symbols, expressions, appearances, significations. These phenomena can easily be formalized on the basis of their formal relational character. We are especially inclined today to subject all beings to an "interpretation" following the guideline of such a "relation," an interpretation which is always "correct" because it basically says nothing, no more than the facile scheme of form and content.

As an example of a sign, we choose one which we shall see again in a later analysis, though in a different regard. Motor cars are equipped with an adjustable red arrow whose position indicates which direction the car will take, for example, at an intersection. The position of the arrow is regulated by the driver of the car. This sign is a useful thing which is at hand not only for the heedfulness (steering) of the driver. Those who are not in the car—and they especially—make use of this useful thing in that they yield accordingly or remain standing. This sign is handy within the world in the totality of the context of useful things belonging to vehicles and traffic regulations. As a useful thing, this pointer is constituted by reference. It has the character of in-order-to, its specific serviceability; it is there in order to indicate. The indicating of this sign can be taken as a kind of "referring." But here we must note that this "referring" as indicating is not the ontological structure of the sign as a useful thing.

As indicating, "referring" is rather grounded in the structure of being of useful things, in serviceability for. The latter does not automatically make something a sign. The useful thing ''hammer" is also characterized by serviceability, but it does not thus become a sign. The "referral" of indicating is the ontic concretion of the what-for of serviceability, and determines a useful thing for that what-for. The referral "serviceability for," on the other hand, is art ontological, categorical determination of the useful thing as useful thing. The fact that the what-for of serviceability gets its concretion in indicating is accidental to the constitution of the useful thing as such. The distinction between referral as serviceability and referral as indicating became roughly apparent in the example of the sign. The two coincide so little that their unity first makes possible a particular kind of useful thing. But [79] just as surely as indicating is fundamentally different from referral as


Martin Heidegger (GA 2) Being & Time (S&S)