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ISSN: 1521-2300

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Greg Siering

Claudine Keenan

Sandye Thompson

Jason Cranford Teague

Douglas Eyman

James Inman

Nick Carbone

Jennifer Bowie

Jeff White

Noah Bates
Linda DeVore
Traci Kelly
David Mark
Kelly Truitt

Before defining "most effective use" in terms of rhetoric and kairos, there is a further question: is the rhetor recognizing the kairos of the situation, or creating it? The rhetorical situation--that perhaps-mythical creation debated by Lloyd Bitzer and Richard Vatz in Philosophy and Rhetoric almost a quarter of a century ago--defined here demands a dual perspective of what kairos might mean. Carolyn Miller addressed the problem by pointing to the distinctions beteen kairos and chronos:

Bitzer's objectivism insists that the situation exists independent of the demands on the rhetor . . . Richard Vatz offers another perspective, suggesting that situations are created by rhetors; thus, by implication, any moment in time has a kairos, a unique potential that a rhetor can grasp and make something of . . . . These two perspectives on situation can be clarified by contrasting the two Greek terms for time, chronos, the quantitative term, and kairos, the qualitative term. (Miller 312)

Given this appropriate distinction, we can begin to see kairos even in terms of Consigny's meaningful demarcation of "tool" and "realm." The proper time (the kairos) for presenting an argument may be seen as something the speaker grasps and utilizes (a tool) or a situation in which the speaker exists and recognizes (a realm). In a very real way this brings us all the way back to the original weaving/archery terminology associated with kairos; an archer must recognize the situation and attack it very precisely, while a weaver is in the midst of creating his own (coming full circle to Kinneavy) situational context. This should not be construed as an either/or situation; Miller herself returns to the archery/weaving references to kairos by concluding, "we should remember that an opening can be constructed as well as discovered." (Miller 313)

It is cogent to point out here that a postmodern twist to the Bitzer/Vatz argument would almost certainly require a siding with Vatz, whose argument can at least be construed as social construction; Miller implicitly does so by aligning Bitzer with chronos in her description. Ironically, to do so is to deny the very essence of kairic argument; in certain contexts (peristaseis), depending upon both the chronos and kairos of the situation, both arguments (while not orthon) can be true.

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