Christiane Bailey on humans' sense of time
If the three basic existential structures characterize the lives of animals what distinguishes human life? As we know, Heidegger does not agree with Aristotle for human excellence rests not in contemplative life but in practical life. Man is the only animal capable of decision (proairesis), of resolute action (GA 18, 99; GA 22, 187). But why is man the only living being “able-to-resolve-itself” (GA 18, 254-56)? The answer given by Aristotle will be crucial for Heidegger: man is able of authentic resolution because of his understanding of time: “Humans because they possess an aisthesis chronou [‘sense of time’], can presentify to mellon [‘the future’](433b7) as the possible and as that for the sake of which they act”(GA 22, 311). Of course, animals also act, but they cannot not act, not pursue what is given as desirable; whereas man can decide not to pursue what is immediately pleasant and genuinely decide the course of his life.