"...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, January 11, 2010
Henry Corbin in the Encyclopedia Iranica
I include below the very fine entry on Corbin by Daryush Shayegan in the English version of the excellent Encyclopedia Iranica. This site is still under development and the search feature is not entirely reliable. The search feature will not find this article - it can be found by perusing the alphabetical list of topics.
CORBIN, HENRY (b. Paris 14 April 1903, d. Paris 7 October 1978), French philosopher and orientalist best known as a major interpreter of the Persian role in the development of Islamic thought.
Corbin’s life and thought
Corbin was the son of Henri Arthur, a business executive, and Eugénie Fournier Corbin. He was graduated from the abbey school of St.-Maur in Paris in 1922 and studied with Étienne Gilson at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Ve Section) beginning in 1923; he received his degree in philosophy in 1925. From Gilson he learned how to interpret early texts, as well as the importance of the Latin translations of Arabic philosophical texts. In Corbin’s later editions and translations of Islamic texts he tried to apply the same rigor that Gilson had devoted to the recovery of Latin texts. He also began to study Arabic and Sanskrit at the École des Langues Orientales. In 1928 he was graduated from the École des Hautes Études with a thesis on stoicism and Augustinianism in the thought of the 16th-century Spanish poet Luís de León, for which he was awarded the Luís de León prize by the University of Salamanca. He became an adjunct at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and the following year received a degree in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish from the École des Langues Orientales and made the acquaintance of the Iranist H. S. Nyberg.
In 1930 he made his first trip to Germany and began to read the works of Martin Heidegger; two years later he visited Germany again and then went on to Sweden. In this period he met such leading intellectuals as Rudolf Otto, Karl Lowith, Alexandre Kojève, Bernard Groethuysen, André Malraux, Ernst Cassirer, Karl Jaspers, Karl Barth, and Georges Dumézil. In 1931-32, stimulated by an intellectual interest in Protestant theology from his reading of Barth, Corbin and his friends Denis de Rougement, Roland de Pury, and Albert-Marie Schmidt founded a journal entitled Hic et Nunc. The four articles he published there and other early works already dealt with themes important in his later works—notably hermeneutics, the link between knowing and being, and eschatological time. In 1933 he married Stella Leenhardt, daughter of the celebrated anthropologist Maurice Leenhardt. He spent 1935-36 in residence at the Institut Français in Berlin, where he met Heidegger and completed his translation of Was ist Metaphysik? (Qu’est-ce que la metaphysique? Paris, 1938, with an appendix containing passages from Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit and a lecture on Holderlin). In 1937 he succeeded Alexandre Koyré at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, teaching courses on the Lutheran theologian Johann Georg Hamann (1730-88) and on Lutheran hermeneutics.
His encounter with German thought, especially with the hermeneutics of Heidegger, provided Corbin with the “hermeneutic key” (clavis hermeneutica). As he noted, “The enormous merit of Heidegger is to have focused even the act of philosophizing upon hermeneutics” (“De Heidegger à Sohrawardī,” in Jambet, p. 24). He was also influenced by the Protestant theology then being taught at the Collège de France by the brothers Joseph and Jean Baruzi, a theology based on the thought of the young Martin Luther, then fashionable in Germany, and of such Protestant intellectuals as Sebastian Franck, Caspar Schwenkfeld, Valentin Weigel, and Johann Arndt. What particularly caught Corbin’s attention was the “phenomenon of the holy book” and the hermeneutic approach. He discovered the works of Emanuel Swedenborg—particularly the theme of correspondences between natural and spiritual things—as well as the dialectical theology of Barth. He was the first translator of Barth’s work, as he had been for that of Heidegger; his translation of the little work entitled Die Not der evangelischen Kirche appeared under the title “Misère et grandeur de l’église évangélique” (Foi et vie 39, 1932).
The most influential event in Corbin’s intellectual life, however, was his discovery of Šehāb-al-Dīn Yaḥyā Sohravardī (d. 578/1191). Louis Massignon gave him a lithographed edition of Sohravardī’s principal work, Ḥekmat al-ešrāq. “The young Platonist that I was then could only take fire from contact with "the imam of the platonists of Persia"” (“Post-Scriptum à un entretien philosophique,” in Jambet, p. 41). In 1935 Corbin published his first important orientalist work, an edition and translation, in collaboration with Paul Kraus, of Sohravardī’s Avāz-e par-e Jebrāʾīl (“Le bruissement de l’aile de Gabriel,” JA 227, 1935, pp. 1-82), followed by Suhrawardî d’Alep (ob. 1191). Fondateur de la doctrine illuminative (Paris, 1939).
In 1939 he and his wife went to Turkey to obtain microfilms of the manuscripts of Sohravardī held in the Istanbul libraries. They planned to stay three months, but World War II kept them there until 1945. Corbin’s study of Sohravardī and his involuntary exile taught him “the virtues of silence and the discipline of the arcane.” In September 1945 he went for the first time to Tehran, where he published Les motifs zoroastriens dans la philosophie de Sohrawardî (1946).
Corbin returned to Paris in 1946, and his subsequent career was divided between Paris and Tehran. He was head of the department of Iranian studies at the Institut Français d’Iranologie in Tehran until 1954, when he was named to succeed Massignon in the chair of Islam and the religions of Arabia in the division of religious sciences at the École Pratique des Hautes Études. In that year he presented a paper on the thought of Avicenna (Ebn Sīna) and Imamism in Tehran, at the congress celebrating the millennium of Avicenna’s birth. From 1334 Š./1955 to 1352 Š./1973 he taught regular courses on Islamic philosophy in the faculty of letters at the University of Tehran, where in 1337 Š./1958 he was awarded an honorary doctorate. Between 1949 and 1978 he was also an active participant in the Eranos circle, a heterogeneous society of international scholars that met annually in Switzerland; he delivered many lectures at its meetings, on themes that he later developed in his publications. The first two volumes of his major work En Islam iranien appeared in 1971 (see below). In 1974 Corbin retired from the École Pratique des Hautes Études and became one of the founding members of the Université Saint-Jean de Jérusalem, centered in Paris; it was a society of scholars dedicated to comparative studies in spiritual matters. He continued to return each autumn to Persia at the invitation of Sayyed Hossein Nast, director of the Imperial Iranian academy of philosophy; Nasr was the editor of Mélanges offerts à Henry Corbin, which was published in Tehran in 1977.
Corbin and Persia. Corbin’s contribution to the study of Persian and Islamic thought must be considered on several levels. He was the first orientalist to deal seriously with the tradition of Shiʿite gnosis, drawing attention to the importance of the later tradition of Shiʿite philosophy and other areas of esoteric Islamic thought, as well as to the importance of Persia and its pre-Islamic heritage within Islam. As a philologist he was responsible for critical editions and translations of numerous Arabic and Persian texts. Primarily, however, he was a philosopher, pursuing his guiding ideas in the “visionary space of the Persian world”: “My training was originally entirely in philosophy, which is why I am actually neither a germanist nor even an orientalist but a philosopher pursuing his quest wherever the intellect leads him. If it has led me to Freiburg, to Tehran, to Isfahan, they remain for me essentially "emblematic cities," the symbols of a never-ending voyage” (“De Heidegger à Sohravardî,” in Jambet, p. 24). It was the Persian world that provided him with his “metaphysical framework.” The dialogue between “Thou” and “I” in Barth’s dialectical theology was thus transformed for Corbin into the union of the soul with its angel; the significatio passiva of Luther was joined to taʾwīl, which the Persian philosophers linked on one hand to symbolic narrative (ḥekāyat) and on the other to the esoteric meaning of the holy book. In Corbin’s thought Heidegger’s “existence until death” (Sein zum Tode) was extended into the existence beyond death propounded in the theosophy of Mollā Ṣadrā Šīrāzī (d. 1050/1641), and the world of symbols was expressed in imaginal space, where the angel’s luminous body became visible. All Persian Islamic mystical thought was focused on taʾwīl, that is, on the “unveiling of what is hidden” (kašf al-maḥjūb). “But then is not phenomenological research what our ancient mystical treatises designated as Kašf al-maḥjūb? The unveiling of that which is hidden? Is it not also what is meant by the term taʾwīl, fundamental in the spiritual hermeneutics of the Koran?” (1977, pp. 22-23). For Corbin the Persian world was clothed in symbolic meaning. Located between India and the Arab world, Persia was the country of Zoroaster, Sohravardī, Rūzbehān, and Ḥāfeẓ, “a world both intermediate and mediatinġ . . . not merely a nation or even an empire, but an entire spiritual universe, an arena for the history of religions” (“Post-Scriptum à un entretien philosophique,” in Jambet, p. 41). Ontologically, too, Persia was an intermediate world, the privileged “place” of the soul and of visionary narratives. Finally, in eschatological terms Persia was a land of expectation, where during the great occultation (ḡaybat-e kobrā) the Hidden Imam prepares for the hour of his reappearance. Corbin believed that “within the Islamic community the Iranian world constituted, from the beginning, an entity of which the characteristic traits and temperament can be explained only if one considers the Iranian intellectual universe as forming a whole, before and after Islam. Islamic Iran has been the country par excellence of the greatest philosophers and mystics of Islam” (En Islam iranien I, p. xxvii).
The metaphysics of the imagination. Corbin’s central concern was the role accorded the imagination in the theosophical thought of Persia. He coined the term “imaginal,” as “imaginary” had acquired a very restricted meaning in Western philosophy. Corbin believed that Sohravardī had been the first to establish the ontological reality of the imaginal but that it had been foreshadowed in the cosmology of Avicenna and even in the concept of xᵛarənah (light of glory; see farr) in Mazdean cosmology (q.v. i). “From century to century the meditations of the Persian thinkers have been devoted to the state of a realm that is neither that of empirical perception nor that of abstract understanding. The idea of this intermediary universe reappears from Sohravardī (12th century) to Mollā Ṣadrā Šīrāzī (17th century), Hādī Sabzavārī (19th century), and so many others down to our own day. They have called this universe by different names: Sometimes, referring to the seven climes of traditional geography, they have called it the "eighth clime," sometimes more technically the ʿālam al-meṯāl” (“Siyavakhsh à Persépolis,” Orient 39/3, 1966, p. 70). Corbin perceived this realm as having extension, an “immaterial materiality.” For him it was the space of con-junction, where the human soul and the angel imagine each other. In order to distinguish more clearly the cognitive quality of this territory, Corbin, drawing his inspiration from Sohravardī, explained that the imagination, fertilized by intellect, becomes the angel’s mode of perception, that is, a meditative faculty (mofakker); but, on the other hand, when delusion (wahm) intrudes, the imagination transforms itself into fantasy (motaḵayyala) and degenerates into a malefic force. As a result, this realm has the power of typification (taṣwīr) and of actual symbolization (tamṯīl). It is the site of the events of the soul and of the visionary narratives of the poets and philosophers, and it thus renders possible the articulation of a symbolic language in which images are transmuted into forms that are half intellectual, half sensual (Geistleiblichkeit). On the threshold of this world time and space are reversed: That which was hidden is revealed; the invisible becomes visible. It is thus a situating, rather than a situated, realm (En Islam iranien IV, p. 384). Entry into it requires a reversal of direction, that is, a taʾwīl. Finally, this realm has a visionary geography, with fabulous cities, mountains, miraculous springs, and rivers.
Zoroastrianism, visionary recitals, and the inner mystical guide. Several other themes were central to Corbin’s interpretation of Persian Islam. First, he stressed the continuity of the spirituality of Islamic Persia with pre-Islamic Zoroastrian Persia. He saw Sohravardī as reuniting the wisdom of the ancient Persians with the philosophical tradition of the Greeks in the illuminationist tradition of ešrāq. Platonic ideals became Persian archangels; the archangel Bahman, the angel Gabriel, and the active intelligence were thus equivalent concepts. Sohravardī presented Kay Ḵosrow, a perfect sage (theosophist, ḥakīm motaʾalla) and wise ruler, the type of one of the great ethical ideals of Persia in all periods, as a founder of philosophy in the east. Sohravardī thus appeared as the proponent of an “eastern” philosophy. Second, Corbin attributed great importance to the “visionary recitals,” mystical and philosophical allegories written by such philosophers as Avicenna and Sohravardī. He argued that Avicenna had outlined the premises of a mystical philosophy in which knowledge was raised to the level of visionary narrative and that Sohravardī had gone farther, picking up the torch of “eastern philosophy” from Avicenna; he thus introduced an entire cycle of narratives in which he employed the taʾwīl of the hieratic figures drawn from the heroic epic of ancient Persia, making possible “the transition from the heroic epic to the mystical epic.” In this way heroes from the Avesta and the Šāh-nāma of Ferdowsī (d. 411/1020) reappear, and the inner guide in the narrative mode of the mystical tales appears sometimes as the fabulous bird of Persian mythology (sīmorḡ), sometimes as an ageless youth, and sometimes as the Mazdean angel Bahman. Third, Corbin was fascinated by the figures of the inner mystical guide and the perfect human types of the seeker, which reappear in various forms. In ešrāqī philosophy the inner guide is the active intellect, and the human types are Plato and Zoroaster—that is, the wise man and the theosophist. In the prophetic mode the former corresponds to the imam or angel or “Mohammadan reality,” and the human type is Moḥammad or the Twelfth Imam. In the realm of the visionary recital the inner guide is represented by Gabriel or the sīmorḡ, and linked with them are Kay Ḵosrow and Esfandīār. Finally, in the realm of mystical love the figure of the beloved or Sophia, the feminine principle, on one hand, is linked with Majnūn or the faithful lover (fidèle d’amour), on the other (Shayegan, pp. 59-64). Corbin believed that the inner guides on all these levels were to be identified with one another. Because Sohravardī had been able to create a synthesis in which the angel of prophetic revelation was identified with the active intellect of the philosophers, Persia avoided the schism between faith and knowledge that occurred in the West.
Corbin’s major works
An exhaustive bibliography of Corbin’s publications through 1981 includes 305 titles (Jambet, pp. 345-60), but to those should be added several posthumous works. Only works on Islamic topics published in book form are listed below. Many shorter works, particularly Corbin’s annual lectures to the Eranos circle in 1949-78, were later incorporated into such major works as En Islam iranien. He also wrote numerous journal articles, reviews, encyclopedia articles, and prefaces for monographs and editions by other scholars.
Texts, translations, and commentaries. The following are editions of texts by Persian philosophers, theologians, and mystics published by Corbin, most in the series Bibliothèque Iranienne issued by the Institut Français d’Iranologie in Tehran. In each entry the number of pages of Arabic or Persian text is given first, followed by the number of pages in French.
Sohravardī, Majmūʿa-ye moṣannafāt-e Šayḵ-e Ešrāq (Oeuvres philosophiques et mystiques I, 1945; repr. 1976; 541, 10 + 85 pp.), containing the metaphysical portions of Sohravardī’s Ketāb al-talwīḥāt al-lawhīya wa’l-ʿaršīya, Ketāb al-moqāwamāt, and Ketāb al-mašāreʿ wa’l-moṭāraḥāt); II (1976; 350, 12 + 104 pp.), containing Ḥekmat al-ešrāq and two short works. Corbin wrote the introduction to a third volume, edited by S. H. Nasr and containing fourteen short Persian works, mostly mystical allegories (1970; repr. 1976).
Abū Yaʿqūb Sejestānī, Kašf al-maḥjūb (1949; 115, 25 pp.), an early Ismaili text. Corbin’s translation of this work was published posthumously as Le dévoilement des choses cachées (Kashf al-mahjub) de Abu Ya’qûb Sejestânî (Lagrasse, France, 1988).
Nāṣer-e Ḵosrow, Ketāb-e jāmeʿ al-ḥekmatayn (Le livre réunissant les deux sagesses, with M. Moʿīn, 1953; 346, 147 pp.).
Šarḥ-e qaṣīda-ye fārsī-e Ḵᵛāja Abu’l-Hayṯam Aḥmad b. Ḥasan Jorjānī mansūb be Moḥammad b. Sorḵ Nīšābūrī (Commentaire de la qasida ismaélienne d’Abu’l-Haitham Jorjani, with M. Moʿīn, 1955; 128, 116 pp.).
Rūzbehān Baqlī Šīrāzī, Ketāb ʿabhar al-ʿāšeqīn (Le jasmin des fidèles d’amour, with M. Moʿīn, 1958; 244, 128 pp.).
Īrān wa yaman. Se resāla-ye esmāʿīlī (Trilogie ismaélienne, 1961; 188, 400 pp.), containing an edition of three Ismaili texts with translations and commentary. The texts are Ketāb al-yanābīʿ by Abū Yaʿqūb Sejestānī, Resālat al-mabdaʾ wa’l-maʿād by the 13th-century Yemeni dāʿī Ḥosayn b. ʿAlī, and the anonymous Baʿżī as taʾwīlāt-e golšan-e rāz.
Mollā Ṣadrā Šīrāzī, Ketāb al-mašāʿer (Le livre des pénétrations métaphysiques, 1964; 248, 271 pp.; 2nd ed., n.p. [Paris], 1988), containing the Arabic text, a French translation with extensive notes by Corbin, and a 19th-century Persian translation with commentary by Badīʿ-al-Molk Mīrzā ʿEmād-al-Dawla.
Rūzbehān Baqlī Šīrāzī, Šarḥ-e šaṭḥīyāt (Commentaire sur les paradoxes des Soufis, 1966; 740, 46 pp.)
Ḥaydar Āmolī, La philosophie shîite (with ʿO.-E. Yaḥyā, 1969; 832, 75 pp.), containing Jāmeʿ al-asrār wa manbaʿ al-anwār and Naqd al-noqūd fī maʿrefat al-wojūd.
Ḥaydar Āmolī, al-Moqaddamāt fī ketāb naṣṣ al-noṣūṣ (Le texte des textes, with ʿO.-E. Yaḥyā, 1975; 546, 46 pp.), a commentary on Ebn ʿArabī’s Foṣūṣ al-ḥekam.
L’archange empourpré (Paris, 1976, 25 + 549 pp.), containing translations of fifteen short philosophical treatises and mystical allegories by Sohravardī, with introductions and notes. The title refers to the gnostic function of the encounter with the angel and the process of intellectual individuation: “This ever-recurring presence reveals the essential mediating function of the angel in ešrāqī spirituality: theophanic function, initiating function, salvation function” (p. xvii).
Le livre de la sagesse orientale (Hikmat al-Ishrâq) de Sohravardî. Commentaires de Qotboddîn Shîrâzî et Mollâ Sadrâ Shîrâzî (Lagrasse, France, 1986), a translation of the introduction and the long section on metaphysics from Sohravardī’s masterwork, with extensive annotations and translated extracts from the two best-known commentaries.
Monographs and other works. Apart from his text editions Corbin published works that were either elaborations of his articles in Eranos-Jahrbuch or fresh contributions to the study of Persian thought. The most important are mentioned here in chronological order.
Avicenna et le récit visionnaire (2 vols., Tehran and Paris, 1954; tr. W. R. Trask as Avicenna and the Visionary Recital, New York, 1960), a study of the rich symbolism in three of Avicenna’s narratives, Ḥayy b. Yaqẓān, Resālat al-ṭayr, and Salmān wa Absāl, with translations of all three recitals and a Persian commentary on the first attributed to Jūzjānī. (The Persian and Arabic texts are omitted in the English edition.) Corbin identified these works as a cycle representing the “eastern” dimension of Avicenna’s thought and linked them with the thought of Sohravardī.
L’imagination créatrice dans le soufisme d’Ibn ʿArabī (Paris, 1958; 2nd ed., Paris, 1976; tr. R. Manheim as Creative Imagination in the Ṣūfism of Ibn ʿArabī, Princeton, N.J., 1969), an account of imagination and its relation to prayer and theosophy in the mysticism of Ebn ʿArabī (560-638/1165-1240). After sketching in broad strokes the spiritual ties between Andalusia and Persia, Corbin described three pivotal events in the life of the great Spanish mystic: his attendance at the funeral of Averroës (Ebn Rošd), his journey to the east, and his mystical encounter with Ḵeżr. He argued that Ebn ʿArabī and the Persian platonists had produced a new phenomenon: theosophy. Corbin also studied Ebn ʿArabī’s symbolism, set forth in Ketāb al-fotūḥāt al-makkīya (Book of the spiritual conquests of Mecca)—the primordial mist (ʿamāʾ), the theophanies, and the divine names—and his mystical theology of prayer.
Terre céleste et corps de résurrection. De l’Iran mazdéen à l’Iran shīʿite (Paris, 1961; rev. ed., Corps spirituel et terre céleste. De l’Iran mazdéen à l’Iran shīʿite, Paris, 1979; tr. of 1st ed. N. Pearson as Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth. From Mazdean Iran to Shiʿite Iran, Princeton, N.J., 1977), an account of Persian mystical geography. In a lengthy introduction Corbin gave an account of imaginal space and demonstrated its importance in the Persian spiritual universe, including the mythical geography of pre-Islamic Persia: the seven kešvars, Ērān-Vēj, and xᵛarənah. The second part of the book consists of translations of traditional texts on the “eighth clime” by Sohravardī, Ebn ʿArabī, Dāʾūd Qayṣarī, Mollā Moḥsen Fayż Kāšānī, and several leaders of the Shaikhi school.
Histoire de la philosophie islamique (with S. H. Nasr and O. Yahya, 2 vols., Paris, 1964; Volume II was identical with Corbin’s Volume III in the Pléïade Histoire de la philosophie, Paris, 1974; the two volumes were reprinted together in Paris in 1986), a survey of the major phases in Islamic thought, including spiritual exegesis of the Koran, Shiʿism, Ismailism, hellenizing philosophy, Sufism, Sohravardī, the theologians, the encyclopedists, and the schools of Isfahan, Tehran, and Khorasan. Corbin argued that Averroës symbolized a cleavage between the western and eastern aspects of Islamic thought. In the west Avicennism died out under the attacks of William of Auvergne, and Latin Averroism came to an end with the school of Padua. As for the east, “Neither was Averroism known there, nor was the critique by Ḡazālī recognized as having the fatal consequences that our historians of philosophy have often accorded to it. Avicenna had excellent direct disciples . . . . But one can say, without paradox, that Avicenna’s successor was Sohravardī, not in the sense that he incorporated into his own works certain elements of Avicennian metaphysics, but in the sense that he took up in his turn the goal of producing an "eastern philosophy" . . . . This goal Sohravardī achieved by reviving the philosophy, or theosophy, of ancient Persia” (1986, p. 246).
L’homme de lumière dans le soufisme iranien (Paris, 1971; tr. N. Pearson as The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism, Princeton, N.J., 1978), a study of the physiology of luminous man in the works of Najm-al-Dīn Kobrā (d. 617/1220), Najm-al-Dīn Rāzī (d. 654/1256), and ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla Semnānī (d. 736/1336). In this work Corbin discussed the various correspondences among colors, spiritual stations, organs, and prophets.
En Islam iranien. Aspects spirituels et philosophiques (4 vols., Paris, 1971-73), Corbin’s magnum opus, a survey of the entire esoteric tradition in Persian thought. It consists of seven books of essays dealing with aspects of Twelver Shiʿism, the phenomenon of the holy book, and the cycle of prophethood and walāyat (vol. I); Sohravardī and the Persian platonists (vol. II); theories of love and the fidèles d’amour in the work of Rūzbehān Baqlī, the connections between Shiʿism and Sufism as seen in the works of Ḥaydar Āmolī, Ṣāʾen-al-Dīn Torka Iṣbahānī, and ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Semnānī (vol. III); and the school of Isfahan, including Mīr Dāmād, Mollā Ṣadrā, and Qāżī Saʿīd Qomī, the Shaikhi school, the twelfth imam, and chivalry in general (vol. IV). It thus encompasses most of the major topics of Corbin’s Islamic researches, with the primary exceptions of the Ismailis and Ebn ʿArabī. The wide-ranging contents of this work can be viewed as reflecting four parallel itineraries traced by Corbin in four different dimensions of existence: prophetic, ontological, narrative, and erotic-mystical. In his thought none of these dimensions has priority over any other; rather, they can be compared to a melody that remains identical in structure and clearly recognizable when transposed into different keys. Furthermore, each itinerary involves a passage from one state to another, parallel state on a higher plane of existence. The work thus represents the summation and ultimate refinement of Corbin’s lifelong meditation on Persian spirituality.
Philosophie iranienne et philosophie comparée (Paris, 1977, 155 pp.).
Temple et contemplation (Paris, 1980; tr. P. Sherrard as Temple and Contemplation, London, 1986), a collection of five lectures delivered at the Eranos conferences dealing respectively with color symbolism in Shiʿism, taʾwīl in Ismaili gnosis, and the symbol of the temple in Sabianism and Ismailism, in Shiʿism, and in Jewish and Christian theology.
La philosophie iranienne islamique au XXVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris, 1981, 417 pp.), a partly revised version of the French introductions to the three volumes of Anthologie des philosophes iraniens, edited by Sayyed Jalāl-al-Dīn Āštīānī (3 vols., Paris, 1972-77). It contains discussions of the lives, works, and views of eighteen Persian philosophers from Mīr Dāmād (q.v.; d. 1040/1631) to ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm Damāvandī (d. ca. 1150/1737).
After Corbin’s death his students published additional translations (discussed above) and works compiled from lectures and uncollected articles. The latter include: Temps cyclique et gnose ismaélienne (Paris, 1982; tr. R. Manheim and J. Morris as Cyclical Time and Ismaili Gnosis, London, 1983), three lectures delivered and published in the 1950s and dealing respectively with cycles of time in Mazdaism and Ismailism, the imam in Ismaili gnosis, and the relation between ancient gnosticism and Ismailism.
Corbin’s other major posthumous works include Le paradoxe du monothéisme (Paris, 1981), Face de Dieu, face de l’homme (Paris, 1983), L’homme et son ange (Paris, 1983), and Hamann, philosophe du luthéranisme (Paris, 1985).
Bibliography : C. J. Adams, “The Hermeneutics of Henry Corbin,” in R. C. Martin, ed., Approaches to Islam in Religious Studies, Tucson, Ariz., 1985, pp. 129-50. Idem, “Corbin, Henry,” in M. Eliade, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion III, New York, 1987, pp. 86-87. C. Jambet, ed., Henry Corbin, Paris, 1981 (containing a chronology of Corbin’s life; a number of his short pieces; essays, appreciations, letters, etc., by associates; and a full bibliography of his works up to that time). D. Shayegan, Henry Corbin. La topographie spirituelle de l’Islam iranien, Paris, 1990. E. Waugh, review of En Islam iranien, History of Religions 14/4, 1975, pp. 322-34.