"...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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Friday, September 5, 2008

Kathleen Raine on Henry Corbin

"'Tradition' as understood by followers of Guénon, for all their insistence on 'revealed' knowledge and the metaphysical order, seem unconnected to the living source itself and highly suspicious of those very inner worlds from which it ultimately derives. That inner world both Blake and Jung affirm and both appreciated the value of the alchemical symbolism and the alchemical 'work' of self transformation ... I find what is missing from the work of Guénon and his followers in the writings of Henry Corbin...whose term 'imaginal' describes the order to which Blake's Prophetic Books belong - as it does Jung's world of psyche and its archetypes. Corbin understands that sacred tradition is itself without meaning outside that context... Corbin thus harmonizes what one might call the Protestant vision of Blake and Jung, their insistence on discovering the truth 'within the human breast,' and the recognition of a tradition of sacred knowledge embodied in every civilization and all mythologies".

Kathleen Raine, Golgonooza: City of Imagination. Last Studies in William Blake, Lindisfarne Press, Hudson, N.Y., 1991, 4.

William Blake. Jacob's Ladder. Watercolor, c. 1800. British Museum. From wikimedia.

1 comment:

  1. There is a fundamental difference, which may lead to the greatest misconceptions, if not understood: Guenon made initiatic science, which is something different from the studies of Corbin...("Jung's world of psyche and its archetypes" is a parody of Mundus Imaginalis)

    I mean that what is absent in Corbin's (excellent) studies is the spirit of Tradition, intended not intellectually or philosophically, but in the most real sense of the word, which is designated with the word Egregoros.

    That is the case of Guenon's books: a link with a living Egregoros...

    In vino veritas