Review of Metaphysics 40 (1):3 - 16 (1986)

IN A PREVIOUS study entitled, "Time, Times and the 'Right Time': Chronos and Kairos," I explored the distinction between these two aspects of time and their relations to each other. I wish to return to the topic in this paper, building on my previous discussion but bringing in some new dimensions that were unknown to me earlier on. I did not know, for example, that kairos, although it has metaphysical, historical, ethical and esthetic applications, is a concept whose original home, so to speak, was in the ancient rhetorical traditions. A recent study is aimed at recovering this important idea in the present situation. It is not insignificant that, while kairos has important philosophical implications, students of rhetoric have not been alone in neglecting it as can be seen from the fact that it is not listed in the four volume Dictionary of the History of Ideas, edited by Philip Wiener, nor is it to be found in The Great Ideas: A Syntopicon, edited by Mortimer Adler. One reason for the omission is no doubt the absence of any cognate word in English for kairos whereas its partner, chronos, appears in a host of forms throughout any English dictionary. The only exception that occurs to me is the quite rare word 'Kairotic' which is listed only in the most complete dictionaries. The loss of the concept of kairos is doubly unfortunate for, on the one hand, the idea has been of enormous significance in the past figuring essentially, for instance, in the religious traditions of the West, and, on the other hand, it expresses a most important feature of temporal process which, despite exceptions here and there, is not expressed in the concept of chronos. It is with these facts in mind that I am attempting to rehabilitate, as it were, the kairos aspect of time and to show its philosophical importance.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph198640169
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Unhinged: Kairos and the Invention of the Untimely.Robert Leston - 2013 - Atlantic Journal of Communication 21 (1):29-50.
The Music of Meaning.Vincent Colapietro - 2020 - American Journal of Semiotics 36 (1):11-45.

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