"...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, April 27, 2009

Time & Eternity

One of the central themes in Corbin's work is the relation between the "time of myth," of what he calls "hierohistory," and the linear time of history. This distinction raises issues that lie at the heart of much modern philosophy and theology. I have just chanced upon an essay that will be of interest to anyone who wishes to understand how Corbin's work relates to that of his contemporaries and to subsequent philosophical thought. Tyrus Miller's "Eternity No More: Walter Benjamin and the Myth of the Eternal Return" (in Given World and Time: Temporalities in Context, edited by Tyrus Miller and published by the Central European University Press in 2008) is available online here. This excellent piece outlines some of the relations among the thought of Nietzsche, Eliade (a close colleague of Corbin ar Eranos), Benjamin and others.

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