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Rose, G.J. (1985). The Form Of Time. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 33S(Supplement):261-264.

(1985). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 33S(Supplement):261-264

The Form Of Time

Review by:
Gilbert J. Rose, M.D.

By Elliott Jaques. New York: Crane, Russak, 1982, 252 pp., $24.50.

The author, Professor of Sociology at Brunel University, England, came by his interest in the nature of time from a novel direction. It was the attempt to find an equitable distribution of wage and salary differentials in bureaucratic hierarchies. He found (and reported in three books) that the sense a person has of how much responsibility he carries in his job varies directly with the maximum periods of time he has to exercise discretion in carrying out his duties. This "timespan of discretion" is a measure of capability; it correlates almost perfectly with that person's judgment of what constitutes fair pay for his work, and appears to hold true for the same levels of bureaucratic organization in different fields and many countries.

Attempting to conceptualize a person's level of capability led to the author's idea that time can be thought of as having two dimensions—the subjective one of human intention and the objective one of chronological succession. Developing this idea of the "form of time" is the thesis of the book.

The two dimensions of time, intention and succession, derive from the two different Greek terms referring to time: kairos and chronos. Kairos denotes the human and living time of intentions, purpose, goals. It is episodic time with a beginning, middle, and an end. The term, kairos, remained in classical Greek only. Chronos, on the other hand, came down through Latin into the Romance languages, and refers to measurable time of succession, before and after.

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