82 I. III
Being and Time

in terms of which things at hand are at hand for us. How can world let things at hand be encountered? Our analysis showed that what is encountered within the world is freed in its being for heedful circumspection, for taking matters into account. What does this prior freeing mean and how is it to be understood as the ontological distinction of the world? What problems does the question of the worldliness of the world confront?

The constitution of useful things as things at hand has been described as reference. How can world free beings of this kind with regard to their being, why are these beings encountered first? We mentioned serviceability for, impairment, usability, and so forth, as specific kinds of reference. The what-for of serviceability and wherefore of usability prefigure the possible concretion of reference. The "indicating" of signs, the "hammering" of the hammer, however, are not qualities of beings. They are not qualities at all if this term is supposed to designate the ontological structure of a possible determination of things. In any case, things at hand are suited and unsuited for things, and their "qualities" are, so to speak, still bound up with that suitability or unsuitability, just as objective presence, as a possible kind of being of things at hand, is still bound up with handiness. But as the constitution of useful things, serviceability (reference) is also not the suitability of beings, but the condition of the possibility of being for their being able to be determined by suitability. But then what does reference mean? The fact that the being of things at hand has the structure [84] of reference means that they have in themselves the character of being referred. Beings are discovered with regard to the fact that they are referred, as those beings which they are, to something. They are relevant together with something else. The character of being of things at hand is relevance. To be relevant means to let something be together with something else. The relation of "together ... with ... " is to be indicated by the term reference.

Relevance is the being [Sein] of innerworldly beings, for which they are always already initially freed. Beings are in each case relevant. That it has a relevance is an ontological determination of the being of these beings, not an antic statement about beings. What the relevance is about is the what-for of serviceability, the wherefore of applicability [Verwendbarkeit]. The what-for of serviceability can in turn be relevant. For example, the thing at hand which we call a hammer has to do with hammering, the hammering has to do with fastening something, fastening something has to do with protection against bad weather. This protection "is" for the sake of providing shelter for Dasein, that is, for the sake of a possibility of its being. Which relevance things at hand have is prefigured in terms of the total relevance. The total relevance which, for example, constitutes the things at hand in a workshop in their handiness is "earlier" than any single useful thing,


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