"...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, October 28, 2009
Roberts Avens on Henry Corbin
The late Roberts Avens (1923-2006) was among the first in the English-speaking world to attempt to show how Corbin's work relates to contemporary western theology and philosophy. His writings are an important resource for those interested in the implications of Corbin's thought. Avens was Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY. Born in Dricani in southeastern Latvia (see map below), he received a BA and MA in the humanities from the University of Brussels, and an MA and PhD in theology and the phenomenology of religion from Fordham University (1976). In addition to his philosophical work, he devoted much time to writing poetry, mostly in Latvian, under the name of Roberts Mūks. Some of his poems (in Latvian) can be found in Jaunā Gaita nr. 187, jūnijs 1992 and others of his and some honoring him on his 70th birthday, along with more photos, can be found in Jaunā Gaita nr. 191, marts 1993. A short obituary in the Latvian press can be found here.
I here begin a project to make some of his hard-to-find essays available in these posts from time to time, and begin with "Corbin's Interpretation of Imamology and Sufism" below. A partial bibliography follows.
____ "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 Emanuel 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).