"...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, January 28, 2009

Corbin - Goethe - Islam

An even minimally adequate discussion of Corbin's relation to Goethe would require an extended treatment. Here I merely point in that direction in the hope that someone may someday take up the task.

Corbin was a sophisticated and erudite student of the entire German intellectual and spiritual tradition and his references to Goethe should be viewed in that context.

There is an effectively infinite literature on Goethe. Here is a nice short piece which suggests some of the many reasons that Corbin was drawn to his work: Exiling the Esoteric: Goethe and the Literary Canon by Douglas Miller.

Of special relevance for Corbin, Goethe was among the first Europeans of his era to take Eastern and "Oriental" philosophies and religions seriously. His interest in the Islamic world was profound and influential. For an introduction into this literature see the excellent article on Goethe's West-Oestlicher Divan by Jeffrey Einboden, The Genesis of Weltliteratur: Goethe's West-östlicher Divan and Kerygmatic Pluralism (pdf file access). (This work is available in English as: Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, and John Whaley. Poems of the West and the East: West-Eastern Divan = West-Oestlicher Divan : Bi-Lingual Edition of the Complete Poems. With an Introduction by Katharina Mommsen, Germanic studies in America, no. 68. Bern: P. Lang, 1998). The primary source for the relation between Goethe and Islam is the work of Katharina Mommsen. See the short article here and Dr. Mommsen's webpage here. Her book Goethe und der Islam has not yet been translated from the German. (Image of the Divan on the right from wikimedia - click on the photo to enlarge and view the arabic script.)

There are a variety of short references to Goethe's Faust and alchemy thoughout Corbin's work (on Faust & alchemy see here and here; also see "Goethe's Faust as Opus Alchymicum" by Jack Herbert in Inward Lies the Way: German Thought and the Nature of Mind, Stephen Cross and Jack Herbert, Temenos Academy Papers no. 26, London: Temenos Academy). But there are two main places in Corbin's work where Goethe figures prominently. First there is an extended discussion of the spiritual physiology of colors in The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism (pp. 139-144. The same themes are treated also in "Realism and Symbolism of Color in Shi'ite Cosmology" in Temple and Contemplation). Here Corbin compares Goethe's Farbenlehre (Theory of Colors) (also here) with the physiology of the man of light as presented by Najm Kobra and Semnani. He quotes Goethe:

"The eye owes its existence to light. From an auxiliary, sensory apparatus, animal and neutral, light has called forth, produced fro itself, an organ like unto itself: thus the eye was formed by light, of light and for light, so that the inner light might come into contact with the outer light. At this very point we are reminded of the ancient Ionian school, which never ceased to repeat, giving it capital importance, that like is only known by like. And thus we shall remember also the words of an ancient mystics that I would paraphrase as follows:

If the eye were not by nature solar,
How should we be able to look at the light?
If God's own power did not live in us,
How would the divine be able to carry us off in ecstasy?"
(Goethe quoted in Man of Light, 139-40).

Corbin comments, "... the words of the anonymous mystic adopted by Goethe are what enable us to foresee the total convergence between Goethe's doctrine of colors and the physics of light of our Iranian mystics on whose side it represents a tradition going back to ancient pre-Islamic Persia." (Man of Light, 143).

The second extended treatment of Goethe is in Book VII of En Islam Iranien (volume IV, 390-410) in the opening section of his chapter on spiritual chivalry, entitled "From the Green Isle of the Johannites to an Unfinished Poem by Goethe." Here Corbin draws parallels among the ideas of spiritual chivalry in Medieval Europe as expressed in the mysticism of Tauler, Rulman Merswin, the Friends of God and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the mystical poems and epics of Goethe, and similar themes in Shi'ite Islam. Of Goethe's late, unfinished poem Die Geheimnisse (The Mysteries) Corbin writes

"the meaning given by Goethe to the pleroma of the twelve Knights corresponds to the meaning of the pleroma of the twelve Imams in a most striking manner, significant for the religious history of humanity. It is in the field of consciousness thus delimited by the assembly of the Twelve united around the Friend of God of the Oberland and by the assembly of the Twelve Knights that Goethe unites around the summit of an ideal Mont-Serrat, that we may observe at work the lines of force that blossom in the heart of Shi'ism in the idea of a spiritual chivalry common to the entire Abrahamic tradition, which also opens out in the work of Wolfram von Eschenbach in the idea of a chivalry common to the knights of both Christianity and the Orient, that is to say, in Islam." (En Islam Iranien IV, 393).

(Goethe's Poem can be found in English in only one place that I am aware of. It is translated in this rare volume by Rudolf Steiner: The Mysteries: A Christmas and Easter Poem by Goethe = Die Geheimnisse. Spring Valley, N.Y.: Mercury Press, 1987.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Archetypal Psychology and Henry Corbin

Outside of the relatively small community of scholars and students of Islamic mysticism, the influence of Corbin's vision has been felt most profoundly among those who know of him through his Eranos Lectures and his friendships with C.G. Jung and the wide array of scholars who participated in the Eranos Conferences. Corbin gave his first lectures at Ascona, the home of the Eranos Foundation in 1949, and he lectured there annually until shortly before his death. Among the Eranos participants influenced by Corbin the most widely known to the general public is no doubt the American psychologist James Hillman, (Facebook Page) the central figure in the post-Jungian school of archetypal psychology and best-selling author of The Soul's Code and The Force of Character. In his account of the origins and the orientation of archetypal psychology Hillman writes as follows:

"The second immediate father of archetypal psychology [after C.G. Jung] is Henry Corbin (1903-1978), the French scholar, philosopher and mystic, principally known for his interpretation of Islamic thought. From Corbin comes the idea that the mundus archetypalis (‘alam al-mithal) is also the mundus imaginalis. It is a distinct field of imaginal realities requiring methods and perceptual faculties different from the spiritual world beyond it or the empirical world of usual sense perception and naïve formulation. The mundus imaginalis offers an ontological mode of locating the archetypes of the psyche, as the fundamental structures of the imagination or as fundamentally imaginative phenomena that are transcendent of the world of sense in their value if not in their appearance. Their value lies in their theophanic nature and in their virtuality or potentiality which is always ontologically more than actuality and its limits. (As phenomena they must appear, though this appearance is to the imagination or in the imagination.) The mundus imaginalis provides for archetype a valuative and cosmological grounding, when this is needed, different from such bases as: biological instinct, eternal forms, numbers, linguistic and social transmission, biochemical reactions, genetic coding, etc.

But more important than the ontological placing of archetypal realities is the double move of Corbin: (a) that the fundamental nature of the archetype is accessible to the imagination first and first presents itself as image, so that (b) the entire procedure of archetypal psychology as a method is imaginative. Its exposition must be rhetorical and poetic, its reasoning not logical, and its therapeutic aim neither social adaptation nor personalistic individualizing but rather a work in service of restoration of the patient to imaginal realities. The aim of therapy is the development of a sense of soul, the middle ground of psychic realities, and the method of therapy is the cultivation of imagination. (p. 15)

Corbin attributes [the recognition of the reality and independence of images] to the awakened heart as the locus of imagining, a locus also familiar in the Western tradition from Michaelangelo’s immagine del cuor. This interdependence of heart and image intimately ties the very basis of archetypal psychology with the phenomena of love (eros). Corbin’s theory of creative imagination of the heart further implies for psychology that, when it bases itself on the image, it must at the same time recognize that imagination is not merely a human faculty but is an activity of the soul to which the human imagination bears witness. It is not we who imagine but we who are imagined." (p. 19)

From: James Hillman, Archetypal Psychology: A Brief Account. (with a Bibliography of Archetypal Psychology compiled by Tom Cheetham), Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman, Volume 1. Putnam, CT: Spring Publications, 2004. The best introductions to Hillman's work remain A Blue Fire, edited by Thomas Moore, and Re-Visioning Psychology.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Corbin - Illich - Derrida

As I have tried to suggest in my book After Prophecy, both Henry Corbin and Ivan Illich, for all their profound theological differences, shared a deep suspicion of the authoritarian structures of the institutional Church, and both were in their own ways creatively ecumenical in their understanding of Christianity. An attempt to understand the roots of their theological differences can prove to be a liberating experience for a dedicated reader of their work. In this spirit I would point out a book, recently translated into English, by Jacques Derrida and Mustapha Chérif: Islam & the West (PDF file here and here at amazon.com). Chérif is Professor of Philosophy and Islamic Studies at the University of Algiers and a Visiting Professor at the College of France, and Derrida was of course one of the most influential, famous, and even infamous, philosophers of the late 20th century. Both were born in Algeria, where French and Islamic culture have long met. Issues of cultural conflict, personal identity, and the social and philosophical meanings of the monotheistic tradition are of central importance in their lives. Derrida is one of the most powerful contemporary critics of authoritarian structures of all kinds, and through his late works especially, has had an enormous influence on what has come to be called post-modern theology (this volume is a good introduction). Although Henry Corbin was no post-modernist, neither was he a Traditionalist. He is a Romantic thinker in some of the many senses which Rothenberg and Robinson have powerfully delineated in their new book Poems for the Millennium, Volume 3. Corbin's theology of the creative imagination, his willingness to draw inspiration from a wide variety of spiritual, literary, philosophical and theological sources outside the boundaries of conservative academia, along with his quasi-Islamic and radical Protestant Christianity, place his work in a wholly unique position. If Corbin's vision is to have the wide influence which it deserves, it will have to be understood within the larger dialogue of contemporary multicultural and pluralistic thought which the complexities of the world forces upon us. Reading Derrida and Chérif with Corbin in mind is one possible step on that long path.

Ruins of a Mosque, Mansoura, outside Tlemcen, Algeria.

Annotated Bibliography

This is a list of contemporary scholars and others who have written about Henry Corbin or whose work has been significantly influenced by his vision. Entries for individuals are representative and not complete.

(Sadly, I have not updated this since 2009 - TC)

A Complete Bibliography of Corbin's own works is available from
Les Amis de Stella et Henry Corbin

Timurid Watercolor, Shiraz. Freer & Sackler Galleries

Abaza, Mona. "Henry Corbin, the absent centre", Ch. 7 in Debates on Islam and Knowledge in Malaysia and Egypt: Shifting Worlds, London: Routledge, 2002.
Adams, Charles J., "The Hermeneutics of Henry Corbin," in Approaches to Islam in Religious Studies, Martin, ed., Univ. Arizona, 1985.
Algar, Hamid. “The Study of Islam: The Work of Henry Corbin.” Religious Studies Review 6(2) 1980: 85-91.
Aminrazavi, Mehdi. Suhrawardi and the School of Illumination, Richmond : Curzon, 1997.
Amir-Moezzi, M., Christian Jambet et Pierre Lory, (Editors). Henry Corbin: Philosophies et Sagesses des Religions du Livre. Brepols, 2005. Essays by Christian Jambet, Jean-Michel Hirt, James W. Morris, Jean Francois Marquet, Jean-Louis Viellard-Baron, Mohammad Amir-Moezzi, Michel Chodkiewicz, Guy Monnot, Daniel De Smet, Paul Ballanfat, Charles-Henri Fouchecour, Hermann Landolt, Paul B. Fenton, Simon C. Mimouni, Gerard Wiegers, Maria E. Subtelney.
Avens, Roberts, Imagination as Reality: Western Nirvana in Jung, Hillman, Barfield & Cassirer, Spring Publications, 1980.
____ The New Gnosis, Spring Publications, 1984.
____ "Things and Angels, Death and Immortality in Heidegger and in Islamic Gnosis," Hamdard Islamicus VII(2): 3-32, Summer, 1984
____ "Theosophy of Mulla Sadra," Hamdard Islamicus IX(3): 3-30, Autumn, 1986
____ "Henry Corbin and Suhrawardi's Angelology," Hamdard Islamicus XI(1): 3-20, Spring 1988
____ "Corbin's Interpretation of Imamology and Sufism," Hamdard Islamicus XI(2): 67-79, Summer, 1988
____ "The Subtle Realm: Corbin, Sufism and Swedenborg," in Immanuel Swedenborg: A Continuing Vision, ed. Robin Larson, Swedenborg Foundation, New York, 1988.
____ "Henry Corbin's Teaching on Angels," translated from the German by Hugo M. Van Woerkom; Gorgo 18 (1988). pdf file available from Scribd requires (free) registration.
Azadpur, Mohammad. "Unveiling the hidden. On the Meditations of Descartes and Ghazzali", in Tymieniecka, Anna-Teresa (Ed.) - The Passions of the Soul: In the Metamorphosis of Becoming, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003.
Bamford, Christopher, "Esoterism Today: The Example of Henry Corbin," Introduction to The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy, 1998, trans. Joseph Rowe, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley [translation of L'Iran et La Philosophie, Fayard, 1990]
Băncilă,Ionuţ Daniel. "Some Aspects of Manichaeism as Religion of Beauty [in English]," Caietele Echinox (Romania) Issue no.12 /2007. "The study investigates the aspects of Beauty in Manichaean teachings, following certain intuitions by Henry Corbin and Ilya Gershevitch. The Living Soul imprisoned in this material word, the Manichaean dissemination of the Zoroastrian figure of the Virgin of the Good Deeds, as well as the descriptions of the otherworldly ”Gardens of Light” offer as many instances and occasions for the Manichaeans to praise Beauty, although always as situated above and out of this world."
Bloom, Harold, Omens of Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams and Resurrection, Riverhead Books, New York, 1996.
_____ Preface to Princeton Mythos re-issue of Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi, with the new title, Alone with the Alone, 1997.
Bosnak, Robert - Analyst in private practice, Sydney, Australia. Corbin & Dreamwork.
(rbosnak@mindspring.com). Author of A Little Course in Dreams and Tracks in the Wilderness of Dreaming both discuss Corbin. His latest book Embodiment: Creative Imagination in Medicine Art and Travel (Routledge, 2007) is written as a tribute to Henry Corbin.
_____ "My Eranos," (With several mentions of Corbin. Bosnak's own work has been profoundly influenced by Corbin). The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal, Winter 1987, Vol. 7, No. 1, Pages 25–29.
Braga, Corin. Imagination, Imaginaire, Imaginal: Three Concepts for Defining Creative Fantasy by Corin Braga. (pdf file) at Phantasma: Center for Imagination Studies (Romanian), with a subsection "Mundus Imaginalis" referencing Henry Corbin.
Brown, Norman O., "The Prophetic Tradition," in Apocalypse &/or Metamorphosis, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1991.
____ "The Apocalypse of Islam," in op. cit.
Brown, Vahid, "A Counter-History of Islam: Ibn 'Arabi within the Spiritual Topography of Henry Corbin," Journal of Ibn Arabi Society,Volume XXXII, Autumn 2002. (Brown adopts Wassertrom's methods and is critical of Corbin's approach to Ibn 'Arabi).
Cheetham, Tom. The World Turned Inside Out: Henry Corbin and Islamic Mysticism. New Orleans: Spring Journal Books, 2003.
_____ Green Man, Earth Angel: The Prophetic Tradition and the Battle for the Soul of the World. With an Introduction by Robert Sardello. SUNY Series in the Western Esoteric Tradition, SUNY Press, Albany, NY, 2005.
_____ After Prophecy: Imagination, Incarnation and the Unity of the Prophetic Tradition. Lectures for the Temenos Academy. Spring Journal Books, 2007.
Chittick, William, The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn 'Arabi's Metaphysics of the Imagination, SUNY Press, Albany, 1989.
____ Imaginal Worlds: Ibn al-'Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity, SUNY Press, Albany, 1994.
____ The Self-Disclosure of God: Principles of Ibn 'Arabi's Cosmology, SUNY Press, Albany, 1998.
Cobb, Noel. Archetypal Imagination: Glimpses of the Gods in Life and Art, Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1992.
Copjec, Joan. SUNY Buffalo, Area of interest: Corbin & Lacan
Davies, Paul. Romanticism & Esoteric Tradition: Studies in Imagination, Hudson: Lindisfarne, 1998.
Durand, Gilbert. Founder of Le Centre de recherche sur l'imaginaire. Colleague of Jung, Corbin and Gaston Bachelard.
____ Les Structures anthropologiques de l'imaginaire
, Paris, Dunod (1re édition Paris, P.U.F., 1960).
____ Champs de l’imaginaire. Textes réunis par Danièle Chauvin, Grenoble, Ellug, 1996. Includes complete bibliography.
El-Bizri, Nader. The Phenomenological Quest: Between Avicenna and Heidegger, Binghamton, N.Y.: Global Publ., 2000.
Ernst, Carl W. Rūzbihān Baqlī: Mysticism and the Rhetoric of Sainthood in Persian Sufism, Richmond, Surrey : Curzon Press, 1996.
Faivre, Antoine. Access to Western Esotericism, SUNY Press, Albany, 1994.
____ Theosophy, Imagination, Tradition: Studies in Western Esotericism, translated by Christine Rhone, SUNY Series in the Western Esoteric Tradition, SUNY Press, Albany, NY, 2000. This translation is the second part of Faivre’s double volume, Accès de l’ésotérisme occidental II, Gallimard, 1996. The central section, “Exercises of Imagination”, contains three essays on aspects of the mundus imaginalis. This concept interweaves themes of the seventeenth-century magical imagination and its mythical foundations, the theosophy of Boehme, Oetinger, and von Baader, and the act of seeing as implied in the Acts of Peter and the work of Corbin.
Giuliano, Glauco. Il Pellegrinaggio in Oriente di Henry Corbin. Con una scelta di testi. Lavis (Trento-Italia), La Finestra editrice, 2003.
_____ Nîtârtha. Saggi per un pensiero eurasiatico. Lavis (Trento-Italia), La Finestra editrice, 2004.
Green, Nile. Department of History, UCLA. "Between Heidegger and the Hidden Imam: Reflections on Henry Corbin's Approaches to Mystical Islam", in Mohammad-Reza Djalili, Alessandro Monsutti & Anna Neubauer (eds), Le Monde turco-iranien en question (Paris: Karthala, forthcoming 2008). [Unauthorised draft version previously published in Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 17, 3 (2005), pp.219-226]
Hajhosseini, Morteza. Analytic Comparison between 'Allahmah Tabataba's's View and that of Henry Corbin concerning Human Perfection, Transcendent Philosophy 1: 31-45
Hillman, James - The Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman. Although he makes use of the concept of the mundus imaginalis in ways of which Corbin would not necessarily have approved, Hillman's entire work is profoundly marked by Corbin's influence.
Hughes, Aaron W. & Abraham ben Meïr Ibn Ezra. The Texture of the Divine: Imagination in Medieval Islamic and Jewish Thought, Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 2004.
Hume, Lynne. Assoc. Prof., University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Portals: Opening Doorways to Other Realities Through the Senses. Berg, 2007.
Idel, Moshe, Kabbalah: New Perspectives, Yale University Press, New Haven 1998.
____ Absorbing Perfections. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.
Iranzo, Ivor Pinto. About the Imaginary . On Gilbert Durand.
Jambet, Christian. Institut d'Etudes Iraniennes (University de Paris III) and l'Ecole Pratiques des Hautes Etudes. Henry Corbin, edited by Christian Jambet, Cahier de l'Herne, no. 39. Consacré à Henry Corbin, 1981.
____ La Logique des Orientaux: Henry Corbin et la Science des Formes. Paris: Seuil, 1983.
____ La Grande résurrection d’Alamût: Les formes de la liberté dans le shî’isme ismaélien, Verdier, Paris, 1990.
____ "The Stranger and Theophany," (English translation of Le Caché et l'Apparent). Umbr(a): A Journal of the Unconscious 2005 - The Dark God: 27-41. (Publication of Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture - SUNY Buffalo).
____ The Act of Being: The Philosophy of Revelation in Mulla Sadra. New York: Zone Books, 2006.
Landolt, Hermann, "Henry Corbin, 1903-1978: Between Philosophy and Orientalism," Journal of the American Oriental Society, 119(3): 484-490 (1999).
Laude, Patrick. An Inner Islam: Insights in Massignon, Corbin, Guénon and Schuon. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 2009 (forthcoming).
Lawson, Todd. Associate Professor, University of Toronto, Dept. of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations.
____ Reason and Inspiration in Islam: Philosophy, Theology and Mysticism in Muslim Thought, London & New York, I.B. Taurus, 2005.
____ The Crucifixion and the Qu'ran:
A Study in the History of Muslim Thought, Oxford, One World, 2009.
Lory, Pierre. Directeur scientifique des études médiévales, modernes et arabes, Institut francais du Proche-Orient, Damascus; Directeur d'études à l'EPHE, 5e section, chaire de mystique musulmane, Paris.
____ Alchimie et mystique en terre d'Islam
, Lagrasse, Verdier, Collection " Islam spirituel ", 1989.
____ Le rêve et ses interprétations en Islam, Paris, Albin Michel, 2003.
____ La science des lettres en terre d’Islam, Paris, Dervy, 2004.
____ « Henry Corbin, explorateur des terres d’émeraude », in Symbole, n° 1 (May 2007).
____ Review of Wasserstrom, 1999, at amiscorbin.com.
____ Jean-Louis Vieillard-Baron, Gregoire Lacaze, Jean-Francois Marquet, Antoine Faivre (eds.) Henry Corbin et le Comparatisme Spirituel, Paris, Arche, 2000.
Mahmoud, Samir.
PhD Candidate, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, UK. Interests: Islamic mystical philosophy (Ibn 'Arabi and Suhrawardi); Henry Corbin; Platonism; Islamic Aesthetics; Comparative Aesthetics; History of Art and Architecture; History of cross-cultural exchanges in ideas, art, and architecture between the Muslim world and Europe. email: delphi93@hotmail.com, samir.mahmoud.cantab@gmail.com. Recent Work: "From Heidegger to Suhrawardi: An Introduction to the Thought of Henry Corbin," (2006, published on official website of Henry Corbin edited by Pierre Lory); "'Alam al-Mithal or the Mundus Imaginalis," (paper presented to conference on Philosophy of Religion at the University of Marburg, 2006 to be published in 2008); "Ta'wil and the Angel," paper to be published in 2008; "Suhrawardi and Plotinus on Self-Knowledge as Illumination," (paper presented at Prometheus Trust Conference, Glastonbury, England 2007 to be published under same title in 2008 currently under peer review); "Carl Gustav Jung in the Light of Traditional Psychology or Pneumatology: Some Explorations on Self and Salvation," (paper to be published in 2008 currently under peer review); Currently working on a PhD on the topic of medieval Islamic Philosophical Aesthetics. Dissertation title is: The Art of Remembrance and the Aesthetics of Unity. The thesis draws heavily on Corbin's interpretation of Ibn 'Arabi, Suhrawardi, and Avicenna and it is also indebted to Corbin's dispersed remarks on Islamic art, architecture, and aesthetics.
Mann, Mary Pat. The Door to the Imaginal Realm, Mytholog 4(3): 2006.
Marcotte, R. "Phenomenology through the eyes of an Iranologist: Henry Corbin," The Bulletin of The Henry Martyn Institute of Islamic Studies (1995)14,1-2,55-70. The journal's editor states that this article is both an "insightful and comprehensive analysis of the types and schools of thought which helped to shape the views of one of the best known Islamic scholars of the mid-twentieth century". "Although Corbin's methodological approach is devalued by many scholars today, Marcotte points out that his attempt to form a 'spiritual-type phenomenology' offered fresh and challenging ways of interpreting Islamic thought which, despite their inherent limitations, are still worthy of consideration".
Miller, David. L., The New Polytheism, Dallas: Spring Publications, 1991.
Morris, James Winston. The Reflective Heart: Discovering Spiritual Intelligence in Ibn 'Arabi's Meccan Illuminations. Fons Vitae, 2005.
____ Religion After Religions?: Henry Corbin and the Future of the Study of Religion. In Philosophies et Sagesses des Religions du Livre, ed. P. Lory and M. Amir-Moezzi, Tournhout, Brépols Publishers, 2005, pp. 21-32. Online here.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, "Henry Corbin: The Life and Works of the Occidental Exile in Quest of the Orient of Light," Ch. 17, in Traditional Islam in the Modern World, Kegan Paul International, London, 1987.
Norton, Felicia and Charles Smith, An Emerald Earth: Cultivating a Natural Spirituality and Serving Creative Beauty in Our World. TwoSeasJoin Press, New York, 2008. ISBN 978-0-6152-3546-2
Peña-Velasco, Elizabeth. "An End to Ordinary History: Comments on a Philosophical Novel by Michael Murphy", (at amiscorbin.com) translated by Christine Rhone. This article discusses Murphy's novel of 1982, which drew inspiration from Corbin's Corps Spirituel et Terre Céleste. Our ordinary historical perspective can be transformed into the Imaginal History as Corbin has shown.
Raine, Kathleen, Golgonooza: City of Imagination. Last Studies in William Blake, Lindisfarne Press, Hudson, N.Y., 1991.
Romanyshyn, Robert. Technology as Symptom and Dream. London: Routledge, 1989.
____ Mirror and Metaphor.
Amherst NY: Trivium, 2002.
Rustom, Mohammed. University of Toronto.
"The Metaphysics of the Heart in the Sufi Doctrine of Rumi." Studies in Religion 37/1 (2008): 3-14.
"The Symbology of the Wing in Suhrawardi's The Reverberation of Gabriel's Wing." Transcendent Philosophy 7 (2006): 189-202.
Review of The World Turned Inside Out: Henry Corbin and Islamic Mysticism by Tom Cheetham. The Muslim World Book Review 26/2 (2006): 26-27.
Review of An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Parabola 31/3 (2006): 120-124.

Shaw, Gregory  - Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus, 1995 . Stonehill College, Areas of interest: Neoplatonism, Iamblichus. Also see "Containing Ecstasy: Strategies of Iamblichean Theurgy," Dionysius XXI. This article compares neoplatonic theurgy to contemporary dreamwork and includes references to and a critique of archetypal psychology using Corbin as the criterion for crticism and as the figure who reveals the theurgic element in Ibn Arabi, Avicenna, etc.
Shariat, Ali. "Henry Corbin and the Imaginal: A Look at the Concept and Function of Creative Imagination in Iranian Philosophy," Diogenes, Vol. 39, No. 156, 83-114 (1991)
Shayegan, Daryush. Henry Corbin: La topographie spirituelle de l'Islam Iranien, Ed. de la Difference, Paris, 1990.
Sherrard, Philip. The Eclipse of Man and Nature, Hudson NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1987.
____ Christianity: Lineaments of a Sacred Tradition. Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1998.
Soster, Maria. "Henry Corbin in the 1930s: Questions and Perspectives", (at amiscorbin.com), translated by Christine Rhone. This paper traces the development of the concept of existence in Corbin's articles of the 1930s, when he pursued enquiries into Existenzphilosophie and stayed in Germany for some time.
Subtelny, Maria E.
“History and Religion: The Fallacy of Metaphysical Questions (A Review Article).” Iranian Studies: March 2003, 36(1): 91-101.
Velasco, Ismael. "A Prolegomenon to the Study of Babi and Baha’i Scriptures: The Importance of Henry Corbin to Babi and Baha’i Studies," Baha'i Studies Review, Vol. 12, 2004.
Versluis, Arthur.Theosophia: Hidden Dimensions of Christianity, Hudson NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1994.
Walbridge, John. The Wisdom of the Mystic East: Suhrawardī and Platonic Orientalism, Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 2001.
Wasserstrom, Steven M. Religion After Religion: Gershom Scholem, Mircea Eliade, and Henry Corbin at Eranos, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1999.
Wellman, Donald - Daniel Webster College, Area of interest: Corbin & Charles Olson
Wolfson, Elliot - New York University, Areas of Interest: Kabbalah, Jewish Mysticism. Dr. Wolfson writes, "Corbin has been a major influence on my work on Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism, beginning with Through a Speculum that Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism (Princeton, 1994) -- specifically, I avail myself of his notion of the imaginal. Other essays which follow the path of Corbin include: "Iconic Visualization and the Imaginal Body of God: The Role of Intention in the Rabbinic Conception of Prayer," Modern Theology 12 (1996): 137-162; "Sacred Space and Mental Iconography: Imago Templi and Contemplation in Rhineland Jewish Pietism," in Ki Baruch Hu: Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Judaic Studies in Honor of Baruch A. Levine, 593-634. Edited by R. Chazan, W. Hallo, and L. H. Schiffman. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1999; "Seven Mysteries of Knowledge: Qumran E/sotericism Reconsidered,” in The Idea of Biblical Interpretation: Essays in Honor of James L. Kugel, 173-213. Edited by H. Najman. Leiden: Brill, 2003; "Imago Templi and the Meeting of the Two Seas: Liturgical Time-Space and the Feminine Imaginary in Zoharic Kabbalah," RES (Journal of Anthropology & Aesthetics) 51 (2007): 121-135. In the last essay, I have an extended discussion of Corbin's thought."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Henry Corbin's Magnum Opus: En Islam Iranien

"In many ways the monumental opus of Corbin which summarizes his life-time work is En Islam Iranien, in which over forty years of research and meditation upon Shi’ism, Sufism, Islamic philosophy and the relation between Islamic esotericism and esotericism in the West as manifested in such forms as the legend of the Holy Grail and many other concerns are brought together, Without doubt this work is one of the most outstanding achievements of Western scholarship concerning Islamic and particularly Persian worlds, a study which has already exercised a rich influence and is bound to remain as one of Corbin’s enduring achievements. Many of the themes discussed in his numerous earlier works have found their most mature orchestration in the four volume opus of monumental dimensions." – Hossein Nasr, in "Henry Corbin: The Life and Works of the Occidental Exile in Quest of the Orient of Light." Ch. 17, in Traditional Islam in the Modern World, Kegan Paul International, London, 1987. (Thanks to Hugo van Woerkom for this citation). Photo of Corbin's writing desk from Les Amis de Stella et Henry Corbin here.)

Since most readers of Corbin in English will have not seen these volumes it may be useful to have the tables of contents posted here. Recently an English translation of Volume 2 has been posted on the internet as noted below. It is to be hoped that at some point this work will be published in English in its entirety.

En Islam Iranien

Volume 1: Twelver Shi'ism

Book 1

I. Shi'ism and Iran: 1. Difficulties of the Inquiry. 2. A Spiritual Universe to Comprehend. 3. Of Certain Prejudices Regarding Shi'ism 4. Of the Problems to Surmount

II. The Notion of Twelver Shi'sm: 1. The Fundamental Idea of Imamism 2. Prophetic Philosophy and Initiatic Religion 3. The Pleroma of the Twelve Imams 4. The Paradoxes Confronted by Ismaelism and Twelver Shi'ism

III. The Spiritual Combat of Shi'ism: 1. The Situation of Shi'ite Spirituality 2. The Divine Trust Deposited in Man 3. The Conversations of the 1st Imam with Komayi ibn Ziyad 4. The Invisible Spiritual Hierarchies 5. The Stakes of the Spiritual Combat of Shi'ism and its Reality

IV. The Phenomenon of the Holy Book: 1. The Holy Book and Hermeneutics. 2. Spaces and Perspectives of Spiritual Hermeneutics 3. Historical Consciousness and Gnostic Consciousness 4. Historicism or Interiorization? 5.Spiritual Intelligence and the Forms of Temporality according to Semnani and Qazi Sa'id Qommi

V. Esotericism and Hermeneutics: 1. The Secret of the Imams or the Four Levels of Esotericism 2. The Epiphanic Descents of the Holy Book 3. The Esoteric Hermeneutic of the Qu'ran

VI. Prophetology and Imamology: 1. The Necessity of the Prophets and the Necessity of the Imams 2. The Categories of the Prophets and the Walayat 3. The Prophetic Heritage and the Imamate 4. The Science Inherited from the Prophets 5. The Cycle of Prophecy and the Cycle of the Walayat

VII. The Meaning of the Imam for Shi'ite Spirituality: 1. Shi'ism as a Religion of Spiritual Love Initiating to Consciousness of the Self 2. The Imam as Guide and as Pole 3. The Imam as the A'raf 4. The Imam as Witness of God and Witness of Contemplation

Volume 2: Suhrawardi and the Platonists of Persia

Book 2

I. The Grand Project of a Life: 1. The Life and the Martyrdom 2. The Ascendance of the Ishraqiyun or the "Oriental" Theosophers

II. "Oriental" Theosophy
: 1. Hieratic Wisdom 2. "Oriental" Consciousness 3. The Hierarchy of Spirituals and the Mystical Pole

III. The Mazdean Light of Glory (Xvaranah) and Angelology
: 1. The Light of Glory as "Oriental" Source 2. The Visions of Kay Khusraw and Zoroaster 3. The Archangelic Lights and the Platonic Ideas 4. The Hierarchies of the Archangelic Lights 5. Psalms to the Archangel of the Sun and the Perfect Nature

IV. The Light of Glory and the Holy Grail
: 1. Hermetica and Mithraica 2. The Forms of Manifestation and the Tradition of the Xvaranah and the Holy Grail 3. Kay Khosraw and Parsifal 4. The "Oriental" Purpose as the Completion of the Heroic Epic and the Mystical Epic 5. The Recital of the Grail of a Mystical Khosrawani

V. The Recital of the Crimson Archangel and the Iranian Mystical Geste
: 1. The Purpose of the Recit 2. The Prologue of the Recit 3. The Seven Themes of the Recit 4. From the Birth of Zal to the Death of Esfandyar 5. Translation of the Recital of the Crimson Archangel

VI. The Recital of the Occidental Exile and the Gnostic Geste
: 1. The History of the Gnostic 2. Analysis of the Recit 3. Translation of the Recit of the Occidental Exile 4. The Gnostic at the Meeting with the Angel: i. Who is the Personal Angel? ii. The Perfect Nature as the Hermetic Notion of the Personal Angel iii. Gnostic Variations on the Theme of the Meeting: a. Gnostic Gospels and Acts b. Mandean Gnosis c. Mithraic Liturgy d. Alchemy e. Manichean and Mazdean Gnosticism f. Swedenborgiana 5. The Secret of the Personal City

VII. The "Oriental" Tradition
: 1. The Spiritual Legacy on the Royal Road 2. The "Oriental" Legacy in Iran and India 3. The Religion of Love Transfigured

An English translation by Hugo van Woerkom is available here: En Islam Iranien Vol 2. (From Scribd. You must register (for free) to download a pdf version of the text. High-speed internet connection recommended.)

Volume 3: Les Fideles d'Amour / Shi'ism and Sufism

Book 3: Ruzbehan Baqli Shirazi and the Sufism of the Fideles d'Amour

I. Sufism and the Quietude of the Soul

II. Ruzbehan of Shiraz

III. The Darkening of the Soul and the Test of the Veil

IV. Diarium Spirituale

V. The Jasmine of the Fideles d'Amour

VI. The Interior Pilgrimage
: 1. Theophany in Beauty. 2. The Prophet of Beauty. 3. The Prophetic Meaning of Beauty. 4. The Pre-eternal Source of Love. 5. The Stages of Initiation. 6. The Esoteric Tawid. 7. The "History" of the Fideles d'Amour.

Book 4: Shi'ism and Sufism

I. Haydar Amoli: Shi'ite Theologian of Sufism: 1. The Discovery of an Oeuvre. 2. Sketches Autobiographical and Bibliographical. 3. Shi'ism and Sufism. 4. Theological Tawhid and Ontological Tawid. 5. Visions in the Heavenly Night in Baghdad and Khorassan

II. An Anonymous Treatise on the Seven Esoteric Meanings of the Qu'ran
: 1. Hermeneutics and Typology. 2. The Eternal Event of the Book. 3. The Seven Esoteric Depths and the Spiritual Hierarchy.

III. Spiritual Typology According to Sa'inoddin 'Ali Torkeh Isphahani
: 1. The Esoteric Meaning of the Fragmentation of the Moon. 2. The Jurists and the Traditionalists. 3. The Philosophers of Islam. 4. The Peripatetics. 5. The Theosophers of Light. 6. The Sufis. 7. The Horoufis. 8. The Shi'ites 9. Of an Imamology Which Does Not Dare to Speak Its Name.

IV. The Seven Subtile Organ of Man According to 'Alaoddawleh Semnani
: 1. Qur'anic Commentary. 2. The Seven Prophets of Your Being. 3. The Gabriel of Your Being. 4. The Four Modes of Being of the Revealed Book. 5. The Three Bodies of the Human Being. 6. Psychocosmic Constitution of the Organs of the Subtile Physiology. 7. Diarium Spirituale.

Volume 4

Book 5: The School of Isphahan

I. The Ecstatic Confessions of Mir Damad (1041/1631)

II. Mulla Sadr Shirazi (1051/1640)

III. Qazi Sa'id Qommi (1103/1691)

Book 6: The Shaykhi School

I. Shaykh Ahmad Ahsa'i (1241/1826)

II. The Successors of Shaykh Ahmad Ahsa'i

III. Some Points of Doctrine: 1. Tradition and Renewal. 2. Of a Renewal of Metaphysics. 3. The Four Pillars. 4. Eschatology and the Isomorphism of Space and Time.

Book 7: The Twelfth Imam and Spiritual Chivalry

I. The Hagiography of the Twelfth Imam: 1. The Completion of the Pleroma of the Twelve. 2. From Byzantium to Samarra. 3. The Seal of the Mohammadan Walayat and his Occultation

II. In the Time of the Grand Occultation:
1. The Sanctuary of Jam-Karan. 2. The Voyage to the Green Isle in the White Sea.. 3.The Isles of the Five Cities. 4. The Meeting in the Desert or the Ubiquity of the Na-Koja-Abad.

III. Spiritual Chivalry
: 1. From the Green Island of the Johannites to an Unfinished Poem of Goethe. 2. The Abrahamic Tradition and Spiritual Chivalry. 3. The Twelfth Imam and the Reign of the Paraclete. 4. The Personal Guide.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gleanings from the Internet

This short notice appeared in Iran Daily on June 29, 2005: Henry Corbin Memorial Plaque Installed

The text of the article reads as follows:
TEHRAN, June 28--A plaque to commemorate the noted French philosopher Henry Corbin was unveiled in a ceremony here Monday which was attended by the French Ambassador to Iran Francois Nicouloud, reported IRNA. The plaque was installed at the intersection of Neauphle-le-Chateau and Marjan streets in downtown Tehran. Meanwhile, Marjan Street was renamed after Henry Corbin, a philosopher who conducted extensive oriental studies and was deeply interested in Iranian culture and civilization. Speaking at the ceremony, Nicouloud said that Corbin (1903-1978) was a great philosopher who is held in high esteem in France. He successfully introduced Iranian culture, literature and civilization to the Europeans, he added. The outgoing French ambassador said that Corbin proved that culture will develop when it is opened up to others. Addressing the same gathering, Chairman of Tehran City Council Mehdi Chamran said that Iran and France have friendly relations and hoped that they would further develop in all fields.

Also of interest:

A useful and extended synopsis of Temple and Contemplation and a discussion board was posted here on Ismaili Mail in 2007.

The Henry Corbin Page on WeRead.com.

Though it is not clear who wrote it, here is a lecture on "Individuation and Angelology" given in London in 1996 to the Guild of Pastoral Psychology.

And these additions to the Bibliography:
Analytic Comparison between 'Allahmah Tabataba's's View and that of Henry Corbin concerning Human Perfection, by Morteza Hajhosseini. Transcendent Philosophy 1, 31-45.
The Door to the Imaginal Realm, by Mary Pat Mann. Mytholog, 4(3): 2006

And a website of note: Imaginal.net

And this, of considerable interest (in French): Présence d’Henry Corbin, vendredi 8 août 2008 - par Jean-Michel Cros