"...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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Monday, September 22, 2008

The Age of the Spirit

"What animates the doctrine of the Eternal Gospel of Joachim de Flore (1145-1202), the celebrated founder of the Ordo florensis, is the idea of a development of humanity that is the continuous work of the Holy Spirit and the final end of which will be the reign of the Paraclete announced in the Gospel of John. The state of man at the end of this process realizes the perfect liberty of the Spirit which results from the love awakened by the Holy Spirit in the heart of man… The development of the ‘history of salvation’ by no means consists in the development of a principle immanent in history, progressing in a linear way according to laws that today we call ‘historical causality’. Far from that, the history of salvation is only realized by the active and continuous intervention of the Holy Spirit, a creative intervention that each time breaks anew the course imposed on things by the carnal will and worldly ambition."

"The three Ages of which Joachim de Flore speaks [of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit] are not successive periods of historical time…(and Berdiaev observes this in a profound remark...) ... the three Ages represent unities of existential time, interior time… The succession of these Ages plays itself out in the interior of souls, in the mystery of each soul… In historical time in fact these Ages coexist."

Henry Corbin, En Islam Iranien: Aspects spirituels et philosophiques, Tome IV: L'Ecole d'Ispahan - L'Ecole Shaykhie - Le Douzieme Imam, Gallimard, Bib. Des Idees, 1973, 444 & 448.

Joachim de Fiore, Trinitarian Circles from Heiligenlexicon. See also The International Center for Joachimist Studies featuring these pages from the Liber Figurarum. Also this excellent Nikolai Berdiaev source. The Berdiaev text to which Corbin refers is Le sens de la création : un essai de justification de l'homme; traduit du russe par Lucienne Julien Cain; préface de Stanislas Fumet. Bruxelles : Desclée de Brouwer, 1955, 405-6.

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