"...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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jordan battles to regain 'priceless' Christian relics
By Robert Pigott - BBC News religious affairs correspondent

One of the few people to see the collection is David Elkington, a scholar of ancient religious archaeology who is heading a British team trying to get the lead books safely into a Jordanian museum. He says they could be "the major discovery of Christian history", adding: "It's a breathtaking thought that we have held these objects that might have been held by the early saints of the Church."

New Article on Corbin

AYENEH MAREFAT SPRING 2007; -(10):67-98.

ABSTRACT: The fate of Islamic philosophy and wisdom in Iran and its comparison with that in other lands is one of the topics that orientalists have dealt with since long ago. The most dominant theory in this regard in formal orientology circles states that Islamic philosophy came to an end with Ibn Rushd. In contrast, Henry Corbin, the distinguished French philosopher, Islamist, and oriental’s, maintains that this is not the case; rather philosophy has always been alive in the world of Islam, particularly in Iran, which is the cradle of Shiism and Shii thought. He also believes that after Ibn Sina, unlike what happened in the West with the replacement of Ibn Rushd, Islamic philosophy and wisdom continued their life with Suhrawardi and Ibn Arabi, and in the light of the religious teachings of Shiite Imams. They pursued their transcending process of development still further, until in the Safawid period they were gloriously revived by Mulla Sadra and some of his predecessors and successors. Presently, they are experiencing their period of expansion, perfection and flourishing. In the present paper, it has been tried to analyze and explain the above theory, to present the proofs and arguments underlying it, and to compare it with the theory common among orientologists through a study of Corbin's works and clarifying the strong relationship and profound unity between Islamic Wisdom and shii beliefs, disseminated either by the descendants of Imam Ali(a) or legal guardians and based on the esoteric approach of Shii teachings.

Thanks to Hadi Fakhoury for this reference. I am reminded that I have not updated the bibliography in some long while. When I do this will be in it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Two Essays on Eranos

Walking in the Footsteps of Eranos by Robert Hinshaw, and 
Eranos and Jungian Psychology: A History in Images by Paul Kugler (scroll down on the same page). From the IAAP Congress in Barcelona, 2004. Kugler's essay includes this remarkable and poignant photo of Henry Corbin at his final Eranos Conference in 1976 where he delivered « Le paradoxe du monothéisme.»

Monday, March 28, 2011

Charles J. Adams 1924-2011

Charles Adams, Emeritus Professor of Islamic Studies at McGill and for nearly 20 years the Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies there, died March 23 in Mesa, Arizona. A brief obituary can be found here. For further information regarding Professor Adams' career at McGill, an article from the May 29, 1997 McGill Reporter is available here. A biography by B. Todd Lawson can be found in Islamic Studies Presented to Charles J. Adams, ed. Wael B. Hallaq and Donald P. Little, (E.J. Brill, 1991).

Thanks to Hadi Fakhoury for passing on this news. Dr. Adams read the manuscript of my first book on Corbin. We had a brief correspondence, and I have have never forgotten his kindness, enthusiasm and encouragement.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Olson & Corbin, continued - Corbin & Poetry #30

"The Maximus Poems are confusing if we read them without reference to the visionary identification of Gloucester with Hurqualya. If  Corbin's writings (particularly the essay on Mundus Imaginalis) are read as the best introduction one might obtain to a reading of the Maximus Poems, hopefully we may come around to a recognition of the fact that the Maximus Poems are one of the marvelous recent illustrations we have of what the world of the mundus imaginalis may be: a place beyond "literature," outside "the self," beyond questions of "audience" and "entertainment," which is where we finally arrive at an imaginal perspective on myth and history as primary tools of the soul." - Jed Rasula, "Charles Olson and Robert Duncan: Muthologistical Grounding" - Spring Journal 1979, 105.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mishkín Qalam

I am reminded by Farshid Kazemi of an online essay of mine from some years ago which eventually became a chapter in Green Man, Earth Angel"Within This Darkness." The illustration which the editor chose is, Farshid points out, a bit of calligraphy by the 19th century Bahá'í calligraphist Mishkín Qalam. (Also here.)

A collection of his calligraphy was compiled by Annemarie Schimmel and Vahid Rafati. In a note regarding Mishkín Qalam, Schimmel writes:

"Every visitor who comes to the Sackler Museum of Art at the Harvard University is attracted by a beautiful calligraphic picture showing a golden rooster on a radiant blue background -- one of the few items in the Near Eastern Galleries whose reproduction as a greetings card is available in the museum shop. We are often asked about the rooster's provenence and its meaning, and try to explain its importance to our visitors: throughout Iranian history the rooster was a bird connected with light, the herald of the true morning and, in the Islamic tradition, of the time for dawn prayer -- hence a bird whose picture evokes thoughts of clarity, and splendor, bahá. It is, therefore, not surprising that the leading Bahá'í caligrapher, Mishkín Qalam, has devoted some of his calligraphic paintings to the representation of this bird of light, made up from religious formulas." - My thanks to Farshid for these notes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tablet & Pen

Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East  Edited by Reza Aslan 
at GoogleBooks
From the Publisher:
A volume that celebrates the magnificent achievement of twentieth-century Middle Eastern literature that has been neglected in the English-speaking world.

A landmark literary event, this groundbreaking work spans a century of literature by the region's best writers—from the famed Arab poet Khalil Gibran to the Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk—all of them bound together not by borders and nationalities but by a common experience of colonial domination and western imperialism. As best-selling author Reza Aslan writes, the mesmerizing prose of the Middle East-Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu-has been virtually excluded from the canon available to English readers. Under the umbrella of Words Without Borders, Aslan has assembled this extraordinary collection of short stories, memoirs, essays, and poems, featuring both contemporary and historical works, with many of the selections newly appearing in English. Featuring literature from countries as diverse as Morocco and Iran, Turkey and Pakistan, Tablet & Pen is a long-awaited work that is to be devoured as a single sustained narrative from the first page to the last.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lecture at the Samuel Jordan Center, UC Irvine

& The Program in Religious Studies
of the University of California at Irvine


A Country the Color of Heaven:
Islam, Iran and Imagination
in the Work of Henry Corbin
Tom Cheetham

3:30 p.m., Tuesday, 
May 10, 2011
Humanities Gateway 1030

Henry Corbin (1903-1978) was a uniquely creative Protestant theologian and a prolific and important scholar of Sufism and Islamic mysticism in general, with a particular focus on the religious thought of Shi’ite Iran. His vision of the unity of the grand sweep of the religions of the Prophetic Tradition - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - is of vital importance for the contemporary world. Corbin taught in Paris and in Teheran and lectured annually at the Eranos Conferences from 1949 until his death. He was a friend and colleague of C.G. Jung and shared his view of the central importance of the active imagination in human life. His works have had a lasting impact on scholars of religion, visionary thinkers and poets. His great book 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 spirituality and liberal theology in the contemporary world.

This illustrated lecture will introduce the life and work of Henry Corbin and provide an orientation in the basic themes of Islamic and Iranian spirituality as he understood them. We will outline his vision of the unity of the Religions of the Book. Topics include the mundus imaginalis and creative imagination, spiritual alchemy and the meaning of ta'wil, divine and human love, and the role of the Angel Holy Spirit in the life of the soul.

Event is open and free to the public.

For my other Los Angeles and Seattle Lectures 
this May see West Coast Lectures

Monday, March 21, 2011

« La tradition prophétique et le combat pour la sauvegarde de l’âme du monde »

I am delighted to report that the talk I gave in Oxford last October has been translated into French by Robin Guilloux and has been posted by Les Amis de Henry et Stella Corbin on their website. Many thanks to Robin for the effort: « La tradition prophétique et le combat pour la sauvegarde de l’âme du monde » 

The excellent Daniel Proulx, scholar of Corbin & frequent contributor to this blog, has edited Robin Guilloux's fine translation from the English by inserting the original French quotes of Corbin into the text, in the interests of most precisely rendering Corbin's thought. I am extremely grateful to both for their work. The edited text appears below and is available through Scribd. 


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum in NY

History's Hands by Randy Kennedy - NYTimes March 17, 2001

WHEN the Metropolitan Museum of Art makes a big curatorial decision, it tends to do so with the kind of grave deliberation that goes into a papal bull. Gut feeling is not a prized consideration. But in the spring of 2009, in a dust-covered basement workshop in Fez, Morocco, a young curator in the museum’s Islamic department sat among a group of artisans — workers in traditional North African tile, plaster and wood ornament whose roots stretched back seven generations in the trade — and asked the company’s chief executive yet again why the museum should enlist them for an unusual mission. READ THE ARTICLE And please, don't miss the SLIDE SHOW and the VIDEO

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Islam in America

Op-Ed Contributor - Fair to Muslims?
Published: March 8, 2011 New York Times

"MANY American Muslims are fearful and angry about the Congressional hearings on Islamic radicalism that will start Thursday, with some arguing that they are a mere provocation meant to incite bigotry. But as a scholar, I view the hearings, to be led by Representative Peter T. King, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, as an opportunity to educate Americans about our community’s diversity and faith..." READ THE ENTIRE ESSAY HERE.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Forthcoming in April - Les cités merveilleuses

Daniel DE SMET, "Les cités merveilleuses de Ğābalqā, Ğābarsā et Hūrqalyā. Du « monde des images en suspens » de Šihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī au Mundus imaginalis d’Henry Corbin." in Acta Orientalia Belgica - Volume XXIV: DÉCRIRE, NOMMER OU RÊVER LES LIEUX EN ORIENT - Géographie et toponymie entre réalité et fiction - Jean-Marie KRUCHTEN (1944-2010) in memoriam. Édités par Christian CANNUYER Full details here. (Thanks to Daniel Proulx for this).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Daimonic Imagination: Uncanny Intelligence

6th-7th May 2011, University of Kent, Canterbury

This is an interdisciplinary conference dedicated to sharing and discussing new insights into inspired creativity. In many traditions the fount of creative vision and the source of divinatory insight is located in an intelligent ‘other’, whether this is termed god, angel, spirit, muse or daimon, or whether it is seen as an aspect of the human imagination and the activation of the ‘unconscious’ in a Jungian sense. From the artistic genius to the tarot reader, the sense of communication with another order of reality is commonly attested. Such communication may take the form of a flash of intuitive insight, psychic or clairvoyant ability, or spiritual possession. In art and literature many forms have been given to the daimonic intelligence, from angels to aliens, and in the realm of new age practices encounters with spiritual beings are facilitated through an increasing variety of methods including shamanism, hypnotherapy, mediumship, psychedelics, channelling and spirit materialisation.

The conference is not concerned with ‘proving’ or ‘disproving’ the existence of such beings. Rather, it will focus on the theme of how the ‘numinous other’ is conveyed and depicted, how its voice is heard, how it informs, and has always informed, human experience.

The conference will be fully interdisciplinary, perspectives may include those from art, literature, divination, cultural studies, philosophy, theology and RS, spirituality, anthropology, classics, history, psychology, film studies and sociology. Presentations should be 30 minutes in length, to be followed by 15 minutes discussion.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Heavenly Discourses: Myth, Astronomy and Culture

An Interdisciplinary Conference


Nicholas Campion (School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, University of Wales Trinity Saint David)
Darrelyn Gunzburg (Department of History of Art, University of Bristol)

Wills Memorial Building
University of Bristol, UK
14-16 October 2011

Conference Theme

On 12 April 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space and the first to orbit the Earth. 2011 sees the fiftieth anniversary of that event. In almost every human culture the sky functions as a backdrop for mythical encounters, employing the celestial environment as a stage set for narratives of human and divine experience. That moment when human beings first left the planet gave us a different perspective on the sky. This conference will bring together scholars to examine the relationship between the heavens and culture through the arts, literature, religion and philosophy, both in history and the present. We invite proposals from academics in the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences. Topics may include astronomy and music, literature, painting and the visual arts, architecture, religion, history and society.

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Ronald Hutton
Professor of History, The University of Bristol.
"Prehistoric British Astronomy: Whatever Happened to the Earth and Sun?"

Professor Elliot Wolfson
Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University.
"The Sefer Yetzirah and the creation cosmology of the Old Testament"

Professor Roger Beck
Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto.
"The Ancient Mithraeum as a Model Universe"

Professor Gerry Gilmore
Professor of Experimental Philosophy, Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University.
"Artistic representations of astronomical time"

Professor David Malin
Adjunct Professor, RMIT Melbourne Australia. British-Australian astronomer and photographer, former Anglo-Australian Observatory
"From Microscope To Telescope"

Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson,
Department of Physics, Imperial College, London
The space programme (TBC)