"...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.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008


"Thus it was that one day - it was, I think, in the year 1927-28 - I spoke to [Louis Massignon] of the reasons that had led me as a philosopher to the study of Arabic, questions that posed themselves to me concerning the connections between philosophy and mysticism, and that I knew, through a scanty resume in German, of a certain Suhrawardi... Then Massignon had an inspiration from Heaven. He had brought back from a trip to Iran a lithographed edition of the major work of Suhrawardi, Hikmat al'Ishraq, 'The Oriental Theosophy.' With commentaries, it formed a large volume of more than 500 pages. 'Take it,' he said to me, 'I think there is in this book something for you.' This 'something' was the company of the young Shaykh al-Ishraq, who has not left me my whole life. I had always been a Platonist (in the broad sense of the term); I believe that one is born a Platonist as one is born an atheist, a materialist etc. Unfathomable mystery of pre-existential choices! The young Platonist that I was then could only take fire at contact with the one who was the 'Imam of the Platonists of Persia...' ...through my meeting with Suhrawardi, my spiritual destiny for the passage through this world was sealed. Platonism, expressed in terms of the Zoroastrian angelology of ancient Persia, illuminated the path that I was seeking."

in Christian Jambet, (ed.) 1981, Henry Corbin, Cahier de l'Herne, no. 39. Consacré à Henry Corbin, 40-41. English translation of the entire interview with Philip Nemo available here courtesy of Les Amis de Stella et Henry Corbin.

Circular Ornament: Iran, 16th-17th Century. The Freer Gallery of Art & the Arthur Sackler Gallery. "In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate."

Manuscript Page, Suhrawardi ms. given to Henry Corbin, from Henry Corbin, ed. Jambet.

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