This paper excavates another conceptual thread running through much of what has been termed “reflexive realism”—the importance of open temporality. We argue that the ethical and political cores of reflexive realism owe much to a theoretical confrontation with the ultimate reality of open-ended, indeterminate time. Where the legacy of classical realism embedded significant ambiguities in these tensions, reflexive realism can provide a more developed ethical framework for political action through an engagement, via open time, with research often viewed as outside the purview of political realism. We then uncover an aesthetic understanding of action and theory to show how classical realism’s indeterminate view of time, instead of limiting and even debasing any and all human efforts, can be mobilized as a resource for ethical evaluation and action. The paper’s concluding discussion demonstrates this by examining the contributions that open time can make to the perennial dilemma of humanitarian intervention.