"...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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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recent News and Internet Gleanings - Update

Now Available Online
James W. Morris, "Religion After Religions ? : Henry Corbin and the Future of the Study of Religion." (pdf) In Philosophies et Sagesses des Religions du Livre, ed. P. Lory and M. Amir-Moezzi, Tournhout, Brépols Publishers, 2005, pp. 21-32. And a rich selection of articles by Dr. Morris online is available here.

Forthcoming in 2009
Patrick Laude. An Inner Islam: Insights in Massignon, Corbin, Guénon and Schuon. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 2009. Also of great interest are Dr. Laude's previous publications here. Table of Contents: Introduction; Sufism, Shi'ism, and the Definition of Inner Islam; The Qur'an; The Prophet; The Feminine; The Universal Horizon of Islam; The Question of War; Epilogue. From the Introduction: "The current study focuses on two intellectual lineages within the domain of Islamic studies: one ran from the seminal and "revolutionary" contribution of Louis Massignon (1883-1962) to Islamic Studies and was continued, along a significantly different line -more gnostic than mystical, more centered on Shi'ism than on Sunni Islam, by his student Henry Corbin (1903-1978); the second originated with the works of René Guénon (1886-1951) in metaphysics and the study of symbols, and was pursued in a distinct way by the religious philosopher Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998), whose notions of esoterism and tradition have played an influential role in redefining the nature of religious intellectuality among a significant number of contemporary Islamic and non-Islamic scholars. One of the theses put forward in the present book is that these two intellectual lineages are complementary in more than one way: on the one hand, Massignon and Corbin were both deeply rooted in the Christian tradition (Catholic in the former, Protestant in the latter) while being intensely involved in a scholarly redefinition of the academic study of Islam; on the other hand, both Guénon and Schuon developed their works outside of academic institutions and protocols, and were able to illuminate central facets of the Islamic tradition from the point of view of an actual participation in its spiritual economy. This book aims at introducing these four major figures to the English-speaking world by concentrating on their parallel and complementary contributions to a wider and deeper understanding of Islam as an intellectual and spiritual reality... This study addresses pressing questions that are most relevant to our present-day international predicament since studies in Sufism and Islamic spirituality have been widely recognized as most conducive to bridging the gap between Islam and the West, opening the way to fruitful dialogue between Islam and the Christian traditions, reconnecting a section of the younger Islamic intelligentsia with its own spiritual heritage, and providing original answers to the challenges of modernization and fundamentalism by unveiling and explaining the inner and universal dimension of Islam."

Miscellaneous Notes:

New Additions to the Bibliography:

Review: En Islam Iranien, reviewed by Earl Waugh, History of Religions Vol. 14, No. 4: 322-34 (May, 1975). (I can make this available online as a Google Document to anyone who will send me an email address. Otherwise it is available through JSTOR here for anyone who has access.)

: "Islamic Gnosticism: A Systematic Overview" by Peter J. Awn. Reviewed work: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabī by Henry Corbin; Ralph Manheim, History of Religions, Vol. 23, No. 3 (Feb., 1984), pp. 280-282 (review consists of 3 pages).

Ionuţ Daniel Băncilă, "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."

Robert Bosnak
, "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.

R. Marcotte, "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".

Ali Shariat, "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)

Manuscript Page: Folio from an unidentified text; A winter scene of a Sufi and courtier conversing at a shrine.
mid-16th century. Safavid period. Qazvin or Tabriz, Iran. Freer & Sackler Galleries. Purchase, F1946.13.

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