Kairos: (καιρός) Opportunity; seizing the opportune time and place for transformative change.
"Kairos reigns where creative purposes are to be achieved.” (Aldridge, 2000: p.3)
Kairos: an opportune time and space
- a window of opportunity -
“the right or opportune moment".
The concept of Kairos encompasses both time and space, and relates to:
"the auspicious moment" (Kelman, 1969)
"a series of opportunities occurring over time..." (Myers, 2011, p.11)
a window of opportunity (Sullivan, 1992, cited in Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001)
‘the right time’, ‘timeliness’, and "also carries a spatial metaphor, that of a critical opening" (Onians, 1951, cited in Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001
an opening, a portal
liminal time, a “time outside of time” (Turner, 1982, p.253), as experienced during a rite of passage, enabling transformative change (Van Gennep, 1960; Turner, 1967, 1969)
liminality: “betwixt and between” and “pure possibility” (Turner, 1967); “a time of enchantment”, when “anything might, even should, happen” (Turner 1979, p.465, original emphasis).
"Kairos in a psychotherapeutic context can be described as: ... an opportunity of spiritual as well as psychological transformation." (Gostecnik, 1997, p.56)
"Chronos-Kairos, ... the dynamic concept of the emergent moment in therapy after a prolonged suffering or crisis." (Gostecnik, 1997, p.57)
"In summary, therapy is the opportunity for transformation because of the specific nature of the therapeutic experience. In therapy, there is a significant dynamical interplay between the intrapsychic and interpersonal, past and present, which is reenacted and reactivated in a therapeutic relationship. It is a special time of vulnerability and a time of grace, when the change can occur. It also is a time of fulfillment when the person is ready to learn different ways of being and relating. Therapy, therefore, can be conceptualized as a time filled with grace, or Kairos, a time which brings into focus the whole human experience in a very specific way and gives rise to transformation." (Gostecnik, 1997, p.58).
Jung (1957/2011, para.595, pp.59-60; 1957/1970, para.585, pp.303-304) wrote:
"The development of modern art with its seemingly nihilistic trend towards disintegration must be understood as the symptom and symbol of universal destruction and renewal which has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially, and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the καιρός - the right moment - for a "metamorphosis of the gods," of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious man within us who is changing. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science."
In Greek, two words for "time" were:
"chronos" - linear, chronological time,
"kairos" - qualitative time, a moment in an indeterminate period when something special and transformative can happen.
In Greek mythology, Kairos (Καιρός) was also a god, the youngest of the divine sons of Zeus and was the personification of opportunity and opportune moments.
Kairos is sometimes depicted as having a long forelock of hair at the front (by means of which one could grasp the opportunity as it presented itself), shorter hair at the back and sides, having wings on his shoulders and heels, holding a butterfly, holding scales balanced on a razor's edge, with his foot on a globe (Cook, 2010).
Kairos / Caerus: At Olympia, “by the entrance into the stadium there are two altars: one of them is called the altar of Hermes of the Games, the other the altar of Opportunity”, Opportunity elsewhere is represented as the youngest son of Zeus (Pausanias, 1918, Vol.1, XIV, 9, p.258). Hermes, also a son of Zeus, was a god of transitions and liminality.
"The earliest Greek uses of the term, in both archery and weaving, referred to ‘a penetrable opening, an aperture,’ through which an arrow or a shuttle must pass." (Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001).
Cook, A.B. (2010) Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion, Vol.2, Part 2. Cambridge University Press.
Gostecnik, C. (1997) Chronos versus Kairos in Psychotherapy. American Journal of Pastoral Counseling, 1:1, 49-60.
Hedaa, L. and Törnroos, J-A. (2001) Kairology in Business Networks. Proceedings of Annual IMP Conference. Oslo.
Jung, C.G. (1957/2011) The Undiscovered Self: With Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Jung, C.G. (1957/1970, 2nd ed.) Civilization in Transition. CW10. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Kelman, H. (1969) Kairos, the Auspicious Moment. Am. J. Psychother. 29: 59-83.
Myers, K.A. (2011) Metanoia and the Transformation of Opportunity. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Vol.41, Iss.1: 1-18.
Neki, J.S. (1981) Ausar ("Kairos"): and its place in creative psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Review, Sept.1981, 68(3):425-449.
Onians, R. B. (1951) The Origins of European Thought about the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time, and Fate. New York, Arno. 1973. Cited in Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001.
Pausanias (1918) Pausanias Description of Greece. London: William Heinemann.
Stern, D. (2004) The present moment in psychotherapy and everyday life. New York, NY and London: Norton.
Sullivan, Dale L. (1992) Kairos and the rhetoric of belief. Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol.78, Iss.3: 317-332. Cited in Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001.
Turner, V. (1967) The Forest of Symbols : Aspects of Ndembu Ritual. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.
Turner, V. (1969) The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti Structure. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Turner, V. (1979) Frame, Flow and Reflection: Ritual and Drama as Public Liminality. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 6(4): 465-499.
Turner, V. (1982) Images of Anti-Temporality: An Essay in the Anthropology of Experience. The Harvard Theological Review, 75(2), 243-265.
Van Gennep, A. (1960) The Rites of Passage. London: Routledge.