Theophilos Kairis (baptismal name Thomas) born 1784 on the cyclades island Andros as a son of a distinguished family would study in the theological school of Smyrna and be ordained a Greek Orthodox Priest. He spoke many languages ranging from Ancient Greek, Latin, Italian, French, German, and English, that would allow him participate in organizing the Greek revolution and to one day build the "Orphanotropio", a progresive school that embraced the modern university system.
Kairis studied with Veniamin Lesvios at the school of Kydonies, located in asia minor, and would be introduced to contempory science and Greek interpretations of natural science. Both Lesvios and Kairis emphasised the phenomena of feeling as being in principle towards tapping into natures energies, a phenomenology of discovery that in contemporary science, some have referred to as cybernetics.
Kairis would go on to study in Pisa and Paris, and was exposed to ideas from the European enlightment. Kairis studied, mathematics, natural sciences and philosophy. Kairis also had an interest in archeology, making some major findings upon his native island of andros. He also had an interest in Botany and cataloged many of the plants of his local area, as well as documenting pharmacologic properties of various plants.
Starting from 1811 he led Greek language high schools in Asia minor. Eventually, he would take an active part (1819-1826) in the Greek war of liberation and is an important figure in the History of Modern Greece.
On May 10th, 1821, Theophilos Kairis, one of the leading intellectuals of the Greek Revolution, declared the War of Independence by raising the Greek flag at the picturesque cliffside church of St George on the island of Andros: at this time, a famous heartfelt speech, or "rhetoras", inspired shipowners and merchants to contribute funds and contribute ships to build a Greek Navy to combat the Ottomans.
There are many factors that influence the beginning of the Greek War of Independence. Furthermore, philosophy and science from the West began to penetrate Greek culture at the same time of the establishment of the philiki etairia, which was comprised of intellectuals and merchants.
The views of the Age of Enlightenment in European countries are in general well researched, while the attempts to introduce the Enlightenment to countries in the periphery of Europe, such as Greece, is not documented to same degree. Many unanswers remain from this historical period, and surronding the philosophic work of Theophilos Kairis. How did the scientific revolution migrate to the Greek-speaking regions occupied by the Ottoman Empire? How did the Greeks accept the truly revolutionary ideas of the French Revolution and liberalism? What were the reactions of the conservative Greek Orthodox Church and who sacrificed their lives in the cause of their ideas?
Many of the orphans from the Greek war of independence, especially from the massacre from the island of Psara would form the body of the orphanotropio, in which Kairis taught many of the ideas learned from philhellines from all over Europe. Hence, this was the first true European university of Greece.
Kairis fought heroically in the War of Independence, but when the European Big Powers of the time installed Otto von Wittelsbach as a kind of Viceroy of the Powers he was not ready to integrate himself into the new system. Instead he continued to teach radical ideas of the Enlightenment which brought him into conflict with the King and with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Kairs would became a victim of the eastern orthodox church's equivalent of the Holy Inquisition. Kairis suffered a tragic end reserved by fate for those who, being pioneers, tried to introduce to Greece the liberal ideas of Western Europe and the Enlightenment. The philosopher priest, Theophilos Kairis, following his conviction by the Holy Synod in 1839, was confined to the monastary in political exile on the island of Sifnos. He had been located to Syros for trial and execution but died in 1853 10 days before his judicial hearing of natural causes.
Orphanotropio of Theophilos Kairis
Theophilos Kairis, founded, with a few disciples, a pietistic revivalist movement, known as Theosebism - something analogous to the Moravians or the Brethren of Count Zinzendorf. This movement was anathematised by the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but never had any really popular following.
Starting from 1826, Kairis dedicated himself to an institute for orphan of the Greek revolution on Andros. The "orphantropio", or orphan school, presented Kairis to introduce to the Greek education system a wide range of subjects ranging from comparative religion, astrology, ship navigation, agriculture, applied mathematics, accounting, natural science, advance mathematics, and Theosebism. Members of the orphanotripio represented children from all sides of the balkan conflict, with individuals from Bulgaria, moslem turks displaced by the revolution, and Catholics who had inhabited the Greek island from the middle ages. In fact, Kairis had a very different vision for an independent Greece, one that was based upon the American concept of separation of church and state. Kairis advocated for a pan balkan state similar to the united states, that was a multi-cultural state that preserved the cosmopolitan nature of post-byzantium, where all creeds where equally free of tyranny from the oppressive "Ottomans". This was the prelude of the so called "Eastern Question", the gradual dismemberment of the decaying Ottoman empire by the western powers.
The Kairis Library
The Kairis Library: This library is housed in a wonderful neoclassical building, in Hora (or Andros Town). The library contains about 3000 tomes from the collection of Theophilos Kairis. In the library are also exposed a large number of rare publications, manuscripts, historical records, works of art and a small archaeological collection. Within the records, extensive letters demostrating a network of intellectuals would update Kairis about the trends in European sience and philosophy.
Also the mathematical treatises of Kairis are present, representing a very active and original intellect, who had written on complex themes, including on mathematical extensions of Pierre-Simon Laplace's Celestial Mechanics. Artifacts that demostrate Kairis philosophic approach to understanding the energies (energiki ousia phiseos) of nature remain in the library, and highlight Kairis knowledge of Joseph Fourier's work on energy. Through various letters and coorespondence, Kairis's approach to communicating with the various philhellenes demostrates a network of intellectuals that where involved with the French revolution. Kairis has been referred to as the "new Socrates" and was very active in didactic education. The island of andros has a series of water fountains, and horizontal wind mills constructed at the time the students from the orphanotropio where active on the Island, and represent applications from the Kairiki lessons.
One can find books by Professor Mavromatis in the library, which is an edited edtion of Kairis's mathematical work, including how Kairis use the Newtonian binomial  to find the roots of cardinal numbers.
Kairis was in constant communication with western intellectuals from Andros, and had communicated with August Comte, and wrote on his treatises on sociology, then a newley emerging subject. Kairis has also incorported these ideas into the ciruculum of the orphanotropio. Comte's ideas where tremendously influential on Kairis in the later years of the orphanotropio, especially the idea that social ills can be solved as advocated by Jeremy Bentham.
Kairis spoke many languages and was interested in teaching philosophy from the ancient Greeks, translating the great poetry and theatre from antiquity, as well as the philosophic treatises of Aristotle and Plato. Furthermore, lessons on the progessive subject of comparative religion was to be invaluable for the would be ship captains and merchants embarked on international trade. Kairis would teach theosphitism, but in the context of world religions, ranging from buddism, many describing the philosophical thought of Kairis similar in vien as with the Transcendentalism of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Kiaris emphasised poetry as part of the curriculum and taught Lord Byron's work, Robert Browning as well as poetry from the French and German speaking west. This was to create a naturalist and metaphysical apptitude balanced with the natural sciences and mathematics.
Unfortunately, the school was disbanded after Kairis was declared a Heretic, but many of the orphanotropio would go on into the shipping professions, and where also versed in accounting and probability. Of notable family names who can trace back ancenstors who were schooled by Kairis were the Goulandris and Emberikos families. Other students hid in the surronding mountains, taking with them the banned books from the school, and continued to live with the inhabitants of the island working and building some of the most interesting wind mills in Greece.
Indeed, Kairis had also taught his students the early field of Archeology, and conducted field trips on the island to the place he had discovered the ruins of a temple dedicated to Aphrodite prior to the Greek revolution.
To this day, every summer, art exhibitions are organized in the new exhibition area of the library.
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