"...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, September 2, 2010

F. Edward Cranz - In Memorium

F. Edward Cranz 1914-1998

A remembrance, and a celebration of the publication of

Reorientations of Western Thought from Antiquity to the Renaissance by F. Edward Cranz. Edited by Nancy Streuver. Ashgate, 2006.

I had the good fortune to be a student of this wonderful man. It is with considerable pleasure that I take note here of the publication of a remarkable work of scholarship that may be of interest to students of Henry Corbin. Readers of my books will know of Cranz's work, as I have mentioned him several times, although briefly. What gives his work significance for those thinking about Corbin is his analysis of the mutability and historical variability of human experience. For Corbin, we are not in history, "history is in us." This is not Cranz's position and I am not sure that he would have had much sympathy with Corbin's work (though he was kind and fair to everyone). But taking Cranz's profound and exacting scholarship seriously at the very least serves to loosen the grip of any positivist  historicism that assumes a simple relation between cognition and reality. His work can be unsettling for those who accept its implications. Cranz's "phenomenological hermeneutics" is a fascinating complement to Corbin's work as a whole. My essay below appears in the American Cusanus Society Newsletter Volume XXVII, Number 1, July 2010, 17-21. [I have placed his work in a context that is important to me in an essay available here. As of August 2015 my remembrance can also be found at the website of the CTC as a link to F.E.Cranz in the About People page]

 FE Cranz in Memorium - T Cheetham


  1. Très bon texte, car il est si rare que l'on puisse comprendre à la fois un homme et sa pensée, deux choses qui ne sont pourtant pas séparées, mais que nous traitons trop souvent séparément.

    Je suis heureux de découvrir ce penseur et effectivement la complémentarité entre HC et Cranz saute aux yeux. Souvent Corbin dit que la source de la disjonction corps/esprit est la réception et l'interprétation des textes arabes en traduction latine ce qui correspond exactement à la date de 1100. Il faudra toutefois attendre encore 300 à 400 ans pour voir apparaître les conséquences de la perte de l'âme ou de l'intelligence agent avec l'apparition de la "science" et des méthodes proprement empirique. À ce sujet, il faut lire et relire le livre d'Alexandre Koyré Du monde clos à l'univers infini.

    Daniel Proulx

  2. Professor Cranz meant the world to me as a student at Connecticut College, and later through life. He was the reason I became a history major. I still have a print-out of his essay "Re-orientations of Western Thought" in my library; it was a profoundly exciting work for anyone interested in Western perceptions. (Or indeed human perceptions.)

    He was also famous for opening the windows in his early morning classes -- especially when it was snowing - to wake us all up!

    What a lovely, lovely man.