"...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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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Notes on Corbin & Hamann

In 1937 the young Henry Corbin taught a course at the l'Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes on the influence of Luther on Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788). (I have discussed Hamann & Corbin in this earlier post).

He followed with the publication of a short piece in the Annuaire de l’ Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Section des Sciences Religieuses 1938-1939, pp. 77-81, Conférence temporaire : « L’Inspiration luthérienne chez Hamann ».

In 1935 he had written a substantial essay and had planned a book which would include this, plus his translations of a few short pieces by Hamann. One of these translations was published as J.G. HAMANN, « Aesthetica in nuce. Rhapsodie en prose kabbalistique », trad. de l’allemand par H. Corbin, Mesures, janv. 1939, 27 p.
This translation appeared also in Henry Corbin, edited by Christian Jambet, Cahier de l'Herne, no. 39. Consacré à Henry Corbin, 1981.

In 1985 Corbin's larger essay and three translations of pieces by Hamann were at long last published as Hamann, philosophe du luthérianisme, introduction by Jean Brun. Paris, Berg International, 1985, reissued in 2005.

Hamann's essay "Aesthetica in nuce, " "Aesthetics in a Nutshell," is a remarkable piece of Romantic literature in itself and is not readily available in English. I make it available here (in printable, if not screen-readable form & as yet at least, without the extensive notes provided by the translator) in a translation by Joyce P. Crick from Nisbet, Hugh Barr, German Aesthetic and Literary Criticism: Winckelmann, Lessing, Hamann, Herder, Schiller, Goethe. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

Aesthetica in Nuce Complete - Hamann

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