Kairos Journal

Contemporary research institutions find their roots in the cooptation of scholastic guilds by the Latin Church in the medieval era, giving rise to the first Universities. The interest of those institutions directly echoed the interests of elites at the time: law, theology, arts and (in a lesser extent) medicine were the basis of political legitimacy and organization in medieval Europe. From the early modern period onward, the European states which had adopted it shifted toward bureaucratic modes of legitimization and organization, as they became progressively hegemonic at the scale of humanity. This led to a shift of the Latin model of academia toward a distinctly “technoscientific” model of knowledge, but also to the overwhelming dominance of this model over the organization and legitimization of knowledge worldwide. Indeed, the goal of institutionalized knowledge in the modern era was not to legitimize power, a function which was increasingly outsourced to the very claim of “rational” or “scientific” organization. It was to assist the new bureaucratic States in the effective control of their territory and populations, through the construction of standardized models of reality in the like of modern physics.

The organization of contemporary academia inherits from this history. It is organized around the definition of well-defined, almost insular fields of study, each equipped with its specific technical language, standard methodology, and research questions. This is explicit both in the organization of work, with research position being explicitly divided in disciplines (physics, sociology, philosophy…) and often in fields (experimental physics, sociology of media, exegesis of Kant’s writings…), and in the core institution of knowledge production - academic publications. Indeed, the journals which academic publications must go through to assist their author’s career are specific to research fields, and often to specific approaches within those fields. Therefore, to be coopted, an aspiring academic must learn to speak the technical language of a given field, and demonstrate this ability in most (if not all) of their academic writings. This system is good at producing systems of knowledge organized around standardized methods and tools, along with communities of experts which are capable of applying them in the most rigorous way. It is terrible, however, to synthesize those multiple insular systems of knowledge into pragmatic insight into the multiscale, multifaceted phenomenon underlying life and social organization.

Kairos aims to bridge that gap by hosting and editing a journal of scientific synthesis, which aims to integrate knowledge about complex systems, socio-historical dynamics, and epistemology into a pragmatic understanding of our world. Although its thematics are wide by construction, the Kairos Journal aims to build focus and reflectiveness through minimalism by design: it does not provide any information that is not necessary to leverage scientific research into a pragmatic understanding. Its aim in doing so is to transmit knowledge in a maximally efficient manner, but also (and most importantly) to encourage a reflexive, critical relationship to scientific knowledge. We want ourselves and our readership to reflexively integrate our own understanding of social dynamics into our engagement with the world. This supposes the ability to adaptively enact and (re)construct simple heuristics to navigate complex patterns of dependencies in a context of high ambiguity. In other words, it entails thorough reflexiveness onto the most basic components of one’s knowledge, and a general disposition to critically revise them when needed.

Organization & Engagement

The Kairos Journal is run in a purely voluntary manner, and does not practice formal peer review. Indeed, authors which are invited to contribute are deemed good faith actors with sufficient knowledge to not necessitate the explicit validation of their ideas by other scholars. However, authors are encouraged to work with editors to follow the Journal’s ethos of clarity and pragmatic insight, and to identify the specific axis of research which serves best this ethos. Rather than constituting an authoritative source for scientific knowledge, the Kairos Journal seeks to create a dynamic of reflexive understanding of social systems which relates authors and readers in the mobilization of research for action or for the construction of further pragmatic insight.

We encourage readers to send commentaries about published articles or voluntary contributions (either as an abstract or as a general theme the author wants to address), using the header “[Kairos Journal submission/commentary]” at the following address: kairoscliodynamics@disroot.org All submissions will be reviewed by the Journal’s editorial committee, and published (with possible revisions asked) if and only if they fit the Journal’s editorial line.

This article was updated on October 23, 2023