"...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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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Corbin & Interreligious Dialogue

Some reflections on existence and imagination in relation to interreligious dialogue and intercultural philosophy of religion

VIA University College, Department of Teacher Education, Aarhus, Denmark
Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations (2012), 23:3, 257-266

ABSTRACT: This article discusses notions of philosophical grammar, existence, imagination and reason in light of religious plurality in modernity and intercultural philosophy of religion. More specifically the first part of the article presents a model that aims to combine a central modern human experience – that there is a plurality of religious and non-religious ‘nonreducible’ ontologies and existential interpretations of them – with an awareness of the possibility of non-reductionist dialogical existential inter-subjectivity, specifically in relation to ontology, philosophy and religion. The second part of the article discusses briefly the definition of modernity as a global condition, and argues that the plurality of worldviews and a Kantian inspired focus on the individual’s courage to use his or her own reason should be seen as central aspects of worldviews in modernity, but without the need necessarily to follow Kant’s ‘universalistic’ approach to individuality. The third part of the article presents some views on ‘existence’ and ‘essence’ and how these notions are related
in various ways to notions of imagination in some parts of the Muslim philosophical tradition. The fourth part of the article returns to the issue of how to conceive of what it means to be individual and the relation between the individual, communal reality and ontology.

(Thanks to Daniel Proulx for this.)

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