"...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

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Mirror

Daryush Shayegan relates the following anecdote:

"...Corbin was extremely sensitive to the topography of Iran, he saw it as the terrestrial and sensible form of the mundus imaginalis. I remember a trip we took together to Isphahan. We were settled in a little lunchroom of the Hotel Shah-Abbas, which reproduced, after a fashion, the small empty niches of the music room of the Palace of Ali Ghapou. In the walls and the partitions there were cut out of the emptiness innumerable small silhouettes of vases, flasks, laces of cuttings of all the forms conceived by an overflowing imagination. It gave to the space a sensation of levitation, the feeling that everything was in suspension. Everything seemed to be an apparition, vanishing as in a dream. I saw Corbin rise, his eyes lit by an interior gaze, then he took me by the arm, and led me to one of these empty niches, said to me in a voice soft and sensual, 'This is the phenomenon of the mirror, put your hand into this space and you will touch no form there; the form is not there: it is elsewhere, elsewhere...'"

From Daryush Shayegan, Henry Corbin: La topographie spirituelle de l'Islam Iranien, Paris: Ed. de la Difference, 1990, 23-24 (trans. T. Cheetham).