"...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.

Search The Legacy of Henry Corbin: Over 800 Posts

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Necessary Angel - Massimo Cacciari

I actually can't believe I haven't done a post about this book. It seems to have disappeared for a time from the chaos of my shelves, and I haven't read it in years, but still I can recommend it with enthusiasm. Cacciari is a very interesting person - he is currently Mayor of Venice.

The Necessary Angel by Massimo Cacciari. SUNY Press, 1994.

Summary from the Publisher

"Cacciari tells a story. It is the story of the history of angels in Judaic, Islamic, and Christian traditions; and it continues as an amplification of the metaphor of angels in such writers as Dante, Rilke, Kafka, Benjamin, Klee, and Marc in order to speak about the phenomenology of language. Cacciari talks about angels in order to describe the contradictory nature of linguistic signs (absolute freedom and absolute determination). The greatest importance of this book is its 'poetic' approach to phenomenology and the genre of philosophical writing." -- Beverly Allen

"Massimo Cacciari's book The Necessary Angel is both an extremely erudite elucidation of angelology that discusses philosophy, religion, literature, music and painting; and a philosophical focus on the figure of the Angel as 'suspended between all the axes of creation.'" -- Alexander Garcia Duttmann

"Cacciari's unpredictable approaches to the literary, philosophical, and artistic tradition that frames our present intellectual situation, particularly the one that takes shape in the Germanic world of the early twentieth century, are always penetrating and at times even dazzling. This book is an astounding tour de force, eclectic to be sure, but compelling in its defining the contours of that 'angelic' apriori, which is both beyond the human yet intimately inherent in the human--an apriori which discloses the world in its indeterminate, finite transcendence and which makes of the human a locus of intermediary meaning whose ultimate terms are ungraspable, unsayable, and enigmatic. It offers a new figure, an original vocabulary, a fresh network of references, for the intellectual issues that concern so many of us: nihilism, post-modernism, the conditions of intelligibility, and the status of language." -- Robert Harrison


  1. I heard about this book years ago and never tracked it down. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. You gotta read it – it is a great piece of work.
    Possibly, read it in italian…

  3. For a recent interview with M Cacciari in English, see the journal Barcelona Metropolis, no. 79. http://www.barcelonametropolis.cat/en/page.asp?id=21&ui=400
    "I am many, says Europe."