"...the Imagination (or love, or sympathy, or any other sentiment) induces knowledge, and knowledge of an 'object' which is proper to it..."
Henry Corbin (1903-1978) was a scholar, philosopher and theologian. He was a champion of the transformative power of the Imagination and of the transcendent reality of the individual in a world threatened by totalitarianisms of all kinds. One of the 20th century’s most prolific scholars of Islamic mysticism, Corbin was Professor of Islam & Islamic Philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Teheran. He was a major figure at the Eranos Conferences in Switzerland. He introduced the concept of the mundus imaginalis into contemporary thought. His work has provided a foundation for archetypal psychology as developed by James Hillman and influenced countless poets and artists worldwide. But Corbin’s central project was to provide a framework for understanding the unity of the religions of the Book: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. His great work Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi is a classic initiatory text of visionary spirituality that transcends the tragic divisions among the three great monotheisms. Corbin’s life was devoted to the struggle to free the religious imagination from fundamentalisms of every kind. His work marks a watershed in our understanding of the religions of the West and makes a profound contribution to the study of the place of the imagination in human life.

Search The Legacy of Henry Corbin: Over 800 Posts

Friday, April 20, 2018

Every Sufi master is, in a sense, a Freudian psychotherapist

University of California, Davis. 
Her latest book is 
The Arabic Freud: Psychoanalysis and Islam in Modern Egypt

Even in the most revolutionary thinkers, you will find the uncannily familiar. Sigmund Freud was no exception. Arabs recognised in Freud’s body of thought ideas from classical Islamic thinkers. In the 1940s and ’50s, when intellectuals translated Freud’s work into Arabic, they reached out to Ibn Arabi, the great 12th-13th-century Sufi mystic philosopher. The Egyptian playwright and novelist Tawfiq al-Hakim dates the impulse to blend traditions as far back as Alexander’s conquest of Syria and the eventual translation of philosophical works from Greek to Syriac. 

Under Roman rule, Egypt was a centre of learning and part of a shared classical intellectual world, which included Alexandria as much as it did Athens and Rome. Subsequently, Greek philosophy, and particularly the works of Plato and Aristotle, had been energetically translated into Arabic throughout the early Islamic period, contributing to the vitality of Hellenic philosophy. For al-Hakim, Greek ideas were poured into the mould of Islamic philosophy. This process was also evident in al-Hakim’s own work combining Greek tragedy and Islamic legends, in order to effect what he called an ‘intermarriage between two literatures and two mentalities’. It is not at all surprising, then, given this tendency to draw on shared traditions, that Arab intellectuals turned to a mystical Islamic vocabulary when translating Freud in the middle of the 20th century.

This includes the nice detail that Lacan knew of Ibn 'Arabi through reading Corbin.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Shayegan: Trials and Tribulations of an Iranian Philosopher

London - Amir Taheri

“We had one life, after all,” said the Daryush Shayegan as he sipped his double espresso as if it were the nectar of gods. “The question is: what did we do with it?”

The scene was a just over a year ago in a café in Paris’ posh Avenue Alma Marceau where we had gathered for lunch with a mutual friend, Professor Shahin Fatemi. At the time none of us knew that Daryush was on his last visit to the French capital which he had always regarded as a second home and that, a year later, he would pass away in his first home, his beloved Tehran.

Last Monday, a small group of mourners attended the burial ceremony in Tehran of the 83-year old Daryush under the watchful eyes of “Islamic Security” deployed to make sure there will be no “disturbances.”

The answer to Shayegan’s question, “what did we do with our life”, is both simple and complex in his case.

He has been described as polymath, philosopher, poet, mystic, linguist, and master in “Eastern” civilizations, whatever that means. But he had also dabbled in literary criticism, historic research, and, theological speculation. Moreover, he was also a keen collector and connoisseur of objects of art, books, and calligraphy.

Perhaps as a side-line, he had also dabbled in grand political strategy by promoting the concept of “a dialogue of civilization” which was first adopted by Empress Farah and, after the mullahs seized power in Tehran, Hojat al-Islam Muhammad Khatami who served as President of the Islamic Republic for eight years.

However, those who knew him best remember him for his passionate love of Iran, almost bordering on idolatry, and what he described as his lifelong love affair with the Persian language.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Knowledge and Power in the Philosophies of Ḥamīd al-Dīn Kirmānī and Mullā Ṣadrā Shīrāzī

Knowledge and Power in the Philosophies of Ḥamīd al-Dīn Kirmānī

and Mullā Ṣadrā 

by Sayeh Meisami

on amazon

Springer Description

This book is a comparative study of two major Shīʿī thinkers Ḥamīd al-Dīn Kirmānī from the Fatimid Egypt and Mullā Ṣadrā from the Safavid Iran, demonstrating the mutual empowerment of discourses on knowledge formation and religio-political authority in certain Ismaʿili and Twelver contexts. The book investigates concepts, narratives, and arguments that have contributed to the generation and development of the discourse on the absolute authority of the imam and his representatives. To demonstrate this, key passages from primary texts in Arabic and Persian are translated and closely analyzed to highlight the synthesis of philosophical, Sufi, theological, and scriptural discourses. The book also discusses the discursive influence of Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī as a key to the transmission of Ismaʿili narratives of knowledge and authority to later Shīʿī philosophy and its continuation to modern and contemporary times particularly in the narrative of the guardianship of the jurist in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Doors to the Imaginal

Doors to the Imaginal: Implications of Sunni Islam’s Persecution of the Ahmadi “Heresy”

Religions 2018, 9(4), 91

New Social Research Programme & Faculty of Social Sciences, 
University of Tampere, 33014 Tampere, Finland

Abstract: This article focuses on the implications of Sunni persecution of Ahmadiyyat by analyzing texts by the movement’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, to identify the epistemological basis of his claims to prophecy in 19th century India. Rather than situating the claims within an Arabist, juridico-theological lineage, as is normally done, the analysis emphasizes their points of convergence with Persianate, Illuminationist theosophy of the 12th century mystic, Suhravardi. This convergence rests on acknowledging the existence of an intermediate cosmological realm that Henry Corbin termed the mundus imaginalis, which can be accessed by the subtle imagination of spiritual adepts and prophets. Situating Ahmadiyyat within the Persianate theosophical tradition sheds new light on the community’s persecution. In declaring Ahmadiyyat as “heresy,” and in Sunnism’s symbolic violence against Ahmadiyyat, the theosophical features of Ahmad’s thought have also been marginalized. Consequently, Sunni Muslims around the world are excluding Muslim access to the imaginal realm. The conclusion points out how other communities have faced and are facing similar exclusion on similar grounds, and argues for further investigation into the axiom that exclusion of the imaginal is a feature of modernity.

Keywords: Ahmadiyyat; heresy; Islam; Persianate; Sufi; imaginal; theosophy

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Dariush Shayegan 1935-2018

His latest work in Persian ‘Five Realms of Being’,
featuring his views about five legendary Persian 
poets and mystics Khayyam Nishaburi, Ferdowsi, 
Molavi (Rumi), Sa’di and Hafez was released in 2014.

“I am not a philosopher, I am a free thinker.” 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Two fascinating books on art & architecture and imagination

Hooman Koliji draws extensively on Corbin's work.

Architectural Drawing and Imaginative Knowledge in Islamic and Western Traditions
"Contemporary technical architectural drawings, in establishing a direct relationship between the drawing and its object, tend to privilege the visible physical world at the expense of the invisible intangible ideas and concepts, including that of the designer’s imagination. As a result, drawing may become a utilitarian tool for documentation, devoid of any meaningful value in terms of a kind of knowledge that could potentially link the visible and invisible. This book argues that design drawings should be recognized as intermediaries, mediating between the world of ideas and the world of things, spanning the intangible and tangible. The notion of the 'Imaginal' as an intermediary between the invisible and visible is discussed, showing how architectural drawings lend themselves to this notion by performing as creative agents contributing not only to the physical world but also penetrating the realm of concepts. The book argues that this 'in-between' quality to architectural drawing is essential and that it is critical to perceive drawings as subtle bodies that hold physical attributes (for example, form, proportion, color), highly evocative, yet with no matter. Focusing on Islamic geometric architectural drawings, both historical and contemporary, it draws on key philosophical and conceptual notions of imagination from the Islamic tradition as these relate to the creative act. In doing so, this book not only makes important insights into the design process and act of architectural representation, but more broadly it adds to debates on philosophies of the imagination, linking both Western and Islamic traditions."\

'Enquiring into the nature of the creative imagination, this book provides a clear alternative to the well-worn dualistic struggle between rationality and subjective aesthetics. Koliji makes a valuable contribution to the historical study of Islamic architecture, and further reveals an innovative way of approaching artworks through the viewpoint of the designer's imagination that has broad relevance to anyone interested in understanding the process of invention.' Paul Emmons, Virginia Tech, USA 'This book reinforces the novel directions in research that transcend the gaps in historical sources on art and architecture in the pre-modern Muslim milieu by engagingly intersecting the pathways of architectural humanities with Islamic studies in mainstream theory and discourse.' Nader El-Bizri, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Confabulations : Storytelling in Architecture
by Paul Emmons,‎ Marcia F. Feuerstein ,‎ Carolina Dayer 

"Confabulation is a drawing together through storytelling. Fundamental to our perception, memory, and thought is the way we join fractured experiences to construct a narrative. Confabulations: Storytelling in Architecture weaves together poetic ideas, objects, and events and returns you to everyday experiences of life through juxtapositions with dreams, fantasies, and hypotheticals. It follows the intellectual and creative framework of architectural cosmopoesis developed and practiced by the distinguished thinker, architect, and professor Dr. Marco Frascari, who thought deeply about the role of storytelling in architecture. Bringing together a collection of 24 essays from a diverse and respected group of scholars, this book presents the convergence of architecture and storytelling across a broad temporal, geographic, and cultural range. Beginning with an introduction framing the topic, the book is organized along a continuous thread structured around four key areas: architecture of stories, stories of architecture, stories of theory and practice of stories. Beautifully illustrated throughout and including a 64-page full colour section, Confabulations is an insightful investigation into architectural narratives."

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Buddhism & Islam

on amazon

Really good podcast:

History professor and author Johan Elverskog discusses the prevalent but false narrative that Muslim invaders destroyed Buddhism in India.

Really - don't miss it.

and never forget

Chinese Gleams of Sufi Light

Friday, February 23, 2018

Forough Farrokhzad - 1934-1967

Here is a poem by Forough Farrokhzad in a very fine translation. She is almost unknown in English and her major works are untranslated. Someone should remedy that.

The Bird is Mortal

I feel heavy-hearted
I feel heavy-hearted

I go to the terrace and
I draw my fingers upon the drawn skin of the night,
The lamps of relation are dark
The lamps of relation are dark

Nobody will introduce me
to the sun,
Nobody will take me to the sparrows' party

Remember the flight
The bird is mortal

(translation by Farshad Fouladinejad - I am grateful to him for sending me this, and the knowledge of her work).

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

An interesting new essay from Russia

Understanding Imagination: Towards a New Humanitarian Paradigm


Murmansk Arctic State University, Russia

Key words: imagination, image, sensual world, anthropological traject, mundus imaginalis.

The article deals with the problem of imagination interpreted in a broad historical and philosophical
perspective. It is shown that European metaphysics have for a long time neglected imagination in favour of reason. In contrast to this position, the necessity of considering imagination in a new way is postulated – as a leading creative force of the human being. In this connection, the ideas of Henri Corbin and Gilbert Durand are analysed as a possible source of new ways of humanitarian discourse.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Recent Work by Mohammed Rustom

MOHAMMED RUSTOM in Renovatio 1.1 - Feature Article

 By Mohammed Rustom - Sacred Web 39

And in two recent books of interest:

Sebastian Günther and Todd Lawson (eds): 
Roads to Paradise: Eschatology and Concepts of the Hereafter in Islam
(Islamic History and Civilization: Studies and Texts.) 
2 vols. xliv, 1493 pp. 
Leiden: Brill, 2017.

 M. Rustom 

Taylor, Richard C., and Luis Xavier López Farjeat (eds.). 
The Routledge Companion to Islamic Philosophy. 
London: Routledge, 2016.

Mohammed Rustom 

Dr. Mohammed Rustom
Associate Professor
College of the Humanities
Carleton University

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Jihad, Radicalism, and the New Atheism

Jihad, Radicalism, and the New Atheism 
 Mohammad Hassan Khalil  

"One of this book's key insights is that liberalism can also be rather fundamentalistic in its scope and approach, and that the so-called New Atheists such as Sam Harris have even more violent and radical readings of the Quran than the jihadis themselves. Thus, the author argues, there are very few real differences in extremes when we look at the discourses of radical liberals/New Atheists and those of the jihadis. This is reminiscent of a point made by Seyyed Hossein Nasr in his book written in 1987, Traditional Islam in the Modern World (re-issued in 2010 as Islam in the Modern World). There, Nasr shows how modernism (liberalism being modernism's logical extension) and fundamentalism are two sides of the same coin, sharing in common, among other things, the rejection of tradition." -  Mohammed Rustom, Associate Professor, College of the Humanities,Carleton University

"Mohammad Khalil's critique of the "new atheists" is compelling, rational, and hard-hitting without veering into polemics. The result is a highly lucid, carefully argued and engaging book on a very timely topic that has been begging for such a level-headed, scholarly treatment." - Asma Afsaruddin, Professor of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures, Indiana University

"...[N]o work has to this point looked at jihadist discourses on war and New Atheist discourses on Islam together as a shared narrative around what it means to be genuinely motivated by religion in modern Islam. Mohammad Khalil's book does just that, and it should be required reading for anyone looking for a way out of the Manicheanism of both jihadism and certain kinds of anti-religious discourse." - Andrew F. March, Law and Social Change Fellow, Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School

Monday, January 22, 2018

Keep an eye on the Webstore!

New Designs Are Coming

Check out the Henry Corbin Collection & More

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

An Important New Book on the Imaginal

Just got my copy - this is an important book. - TC

"This book is a necessity for students of James Hillman's Archetypal Psychology. Slavin focuses on Hillman's key notions: Soul, Image, Personifying, Pathologizing, Psychologizing, Dehumanizing. Providing these notions with careful background and comparison (particularly with Derrida), Slavin dramatically extends Hillman's reach in depth and breadth. I heartily recommend this book." - Patricia Berry

Metaphor and Imaginal Psychology
A Hermetic Reflection

Marc Slavin

Metaphor and Imaginal Psychology: A Hermetic Reflection provides the first full-length exploration of the significance of metaphor in post-Jungian psychology. Its portrayal of the mythological figure of Hermes as a personification of metaphor marks an original contribution to the field of metaphor studies.

After a 2,500-year exile from philosophy and related areas of study, beginning with Plato’s ejection of the poets from the ideal city-state, metaphor is today experiencing a season of renewal. Among the fields where its significance as a way of seeing, thinking, and feeling has been especially prominent is archetypal psychology, perhaps the most philosophically attuned of psychological disciplines.

Approaching the work of James Hillman and other key archetypal psychologists from a poststructuralist perspective, Metaphor and Imaginal Psychology draws insightful comparisons between archetypal psychology and the deconstructive philosophy of Jacques Derrida, a principle theorist of metaphor’s philosophical resurgence.

By linking two disciplines that might at first appear as strange bedfellows, Metaphor and Imaginal Psychology underscores the influence of metaphor in reason and emotion, and makes a compelling case for the Mercurial ethos of our postmodern world. Aside from representing essential reading for therapists and theorists working in post-Jungian studies, the book will appeal to readers, students and scholars of literary criticism, psychology, philosophy and mythology.

"Slavin’s book opens the space for a much-needed conversation in post-Jungian studies. This book performs a rather difficult feat: it articulates a rigorous academic and philosophic approach to metaphor while remaining true to the Hermetic spirit which it explicitly espouses. This text, with its profundity and playfulness, constitutes a true invocation of the senex-et-puer constellation. It bridges disciplines which have thus far flirted with connecting but have failed to do so in a consistent way. This book is a window through which poststructuralists and imaginal psychologists can look into each other’s ideas and actually begin to talk." - Gustavo Beck, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Ibn Arabi's Thinking on the Imagination and the World of Image

We have this news from Dr. van Lit:

L.W. Cornelis (Eric) van Lit

New Research Project: Ibn Arabi's Thinking on the Imagination and the World of Image

Dr. Cornelis van Lit, of Utrecht University, has been awarded a grant by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research to conduct four years of research on the notion of the imagination according to Ibn ʿArabī and his commentators. 'Imagination' is a central concept for Ibn ʿArabī, and this has certainly not gone unnoticed by scholars. However, a great amount of relevant literature remains extant only in manuscripts, virtually untouched, something Dr. Van Lit wishes to remedy. Moreover, Dr. Van Lit approaches the topic as a historian of philosophy, whereas most scholars working on Ibn ʿArabī come with expertise in sufism or mysticism. Dr. Van Lit previously wrote on a similar medieval discussion, among the philosopher Suhrawardī and his commentators (The World of Image in Islamic Philosophy, published by Edinburgh University Press). Most recently he published in the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society on the difference (and similarity) between Suhrawardī and Ibn ʿArabī on the notion of a 'world of image' (ʿālam al-mithāl). 

Do you have specific ideas about this topic? Do you know somebody who is working on a similar topic? Or do you have access to sources perhaps relevant for this project? Cornelis wants to hear from you. Please contact him by e-mail, Facebook, Academia profile, or his weblog. For more information, see https://digitalorientalist.com/ibn-arabis-reshaping-of-the-muslim-imagination/