Kairos

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

The Greek word kairos means time but it is a concept of time that is quite different than the linear, quantitative perception of time known as chronos.  Kairos is a many layered concept of time which is defined by its purely qualitative measurement.  Liddell and Scotts Greek/English Lexicon defines kairos as “in season, seasonable, happening at the right or critical time,” or the “right opportunity.”

According to Greek mythology Kairos was a god depicted as a young man with short hair in the back and a lock at the front.  The lock is said to represent the opportunity to seize the appropriate moment.  The great Greek philosophers were very interested with the attainment ofkairos, particularly within the walls of the courtroom where the word came to be a legal concept of equity.  Finding an ethical balance is a hallmark of kairic law.  Plato states that to make use of kairos a speaker must understand the Truth, know the souls of his/her audience and select the right words at the appropriate time to convey that Truth to the audience.

Many scholars have used archery and weaving as analogies to explain the concept of kairos.  Carl Glover in his dissertation on kairosstates that to hit one’s target in archery there are many different things that must come together harmoniously and precisely to be successful.  First the archer must carefully aim and draw the bow string; then he must pick the right time to release the bow to hit a moving target; finally he must hit a vital part of the body of his prey.  Similarly the weaving analogy refers to the precise timing of the parting of the threads on a loom so that another thread can be woven through.

There is an implication in the concept of kairos of balance and harmony between seemingly incompatible features that incorporates not only timing but correctness.  It has been said that kairos implies “a season when something appropriately happens that cannot happen just at any time…to a time that marks an opportunity which may not recur.”   The word kairos reflects unique moments in the temporal process — moments in which something exceptional can happen or be accomplished.  It is also viewed as a time for action that has been divinely ordained.  The Pythagoreans saw kairos as the cosmic force, which brings together polar opposites harmoniously and, thereby, creates life in the Universe.

We are now at a unique point in the history of humankind at which all of our existing paradigms are rapidly eroding.  The opportunities ahead of us are many, but with any shift there is always dislocation.  Effectively navigating these changes will require a new way of viewing the world and that includes a new worldview of money — its purpose and how to effectively manage it.  Now is the time to prepare for the new world order to come.

… A prerequisite for a sound decision is kairos, a harmony of conflicting elements.

Mario Untersteiner, The Sophists

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