"...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

Monday, September 17, 2012

Olson's Curriculum of the Soul

Readers of this blog will know of the importance of Henry Corbin to Charles Olson. For example see posts here, and here and here... Now we have this wonderful short history by Joanne Kyger:

and the news that the Curriculum volume can be had, for $3000, on amazon... an electronic version is planned...

Friday, September 14, 2012

New Book on Mulla Sadra

by Mohammed Rustom

(with multiple references to Henry Corbin)

The author is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Carleton University. He is the coeditor (with Atif Khalil and Kazuyo Murata) of In Search of the Lost Heart: Explorations in Islamic Thought by William C. Chittick, also published by SUNY Press.

This book investigates the convergence of philosophy, scriptural exegesis, and mysticism in the thought of the celebrated Islamic philosopher Mullā Ṣadrā (d. 1050/1640). Through a careful presentation of the theoretical and practical dimensions of Ṣadrā’s Qur'ānic hermeneutics, Mohammed Rustom highlights the manner in which Ṣadrā offers a penetrating metaphysical commentary upon the Fātiḥa, the chapter of the Qur'ān that occupies central importance in Muslim daily life. Engaging such medieval intellectual giants as Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606/1210) and Ibn 'Arabī (d. 638/1240) on the one hand, and the wider disciplines of philosophy, theology, Sufism, and Qur'ānic exegesis on the other, Ṣadrā’s commentary upon the Fātiḥa provides him with the opportunity to modify and recast many of his philosophical positions within a scripture-based framework. He thereby reveals himself to be a profound religious thinker who, among other things, argues for the salvation of all human beings in the afterlife.

“By focusing on Ṣadrā’s commentary on the Qur'ān’s opening chapter, Rustom shows how the great Iranian thinker created an original Qur'ānic hermeneutics as well as a new ontology of the Qur'ān. Rustom’s book is a groundbreaking and richly detailed study of the way that Ṣadrā both appropriated and transcended the Islamic traditions of theology, mysticism, philosophy, and scriptural exegesis.” — Robert Wisnovsky, author of Avicenna’s Metaphysics in Context
“Mohammed Rustom has opened the door to a remarkable philosophical exegesis of the Qur'ān in this pathbreaking study of the outstanding Iranian thinker of the seventeenth century, Mullā Ṣadrā. In the process, he clarifies the profound connections between philosophy, Sufism, and Islamic theology in Ṣadrā’s work. This absorbing study will be welcomed by anyone interested in the fundamental question of how reason interacts with revelation.” — Carl W. Ernst, author of How to Read the Qur'ān: A New Guide, with Select Translations

“This first book-length survey of Mullā Ṣadrā’s Qur'ānic commentaries is a major contribution to the study of this seventeenth-century Muslim philosopher and to the field of philosophical exegesis in Islam. Mohammed Rustom presents Ṣadrā’s vision for the unity of the ‘intellectual’ and ‘transmitted’ sciences and gives us a complete picture of a first-rate thinker contemplating upon the Qur'ān. He does an excellent job of contextualizing Ṣadrā’s Qur'ānic hermeneutics within the framework of his ‘Transcendent Wisdom’ and shows how scriptural reasoning complements philosophical vision. Based on an in-depth reading and translation of Ṣadrā’s key texts on Qur'ānic exegesis, the book examines a much-neglected aspect of Ṣadrā’s thought and introduces the reader to the rich philosophical tapestry of the Islamic intellectual tradition.” — Ibrahim Kalin, author of Knowledge in Later Islamic Philosophy: Mullā Ṣadrā on Existence, Intellect, and Intuition

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

 - Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Le rôle de l’imagination dans l’expérience spirituelle d’Ibn al-ʿArabī et de Jakob Böhme

by Daniel Proulx

Henry Corbin a écrit qu’« un Maître Eckhart et un Jacob Boehme eussent parfaitement compris Ibn ʿArabî, et réciproquement. » Mais comment assurer ce dialogue et cette compréhension réciproque pressentie par Henry Corbin? Cette recherche porte essentiellement sur les conditions de possibilités de ce dialogue, puisque la comparaison entre Ibn al-ʿArabī et Böhme n’est encore qu’à ses balbutiements. En choisissant le prisme de l’imagination, le but est double : pouvoir traiter de manière non réductrice les phénomènes spirituels en parcourant et analysant la logique spécifique de l’imagination ; et, sous l’égide de la hiérohistoire, explorer le rôle de l’imagination dans la métaphysique et l’éthique d’Ibn al-ʿArabī et de Böhme. Il s’agit donc d’essayer de lire Ibn al-ʿArabī et Böhme comme ils lisaient eux-mêmes le Livre révélé de leur tradition respective. Au final, il appert que le théophanisme caractéristique tant de la métaphysique d’Ibn al-ʿArabī que de celle de Böhme est une riche terre d’accueil de l’imagination et de l’imaginal. Et que, si la comparaison strictu sensu entre Ibn al-ʿArabī et Böhme est impossible, l’esprit comparatif et transdisciplinaire de cette recherche, ainsi que la méthode phénoménologico-herméneutique, offrent de nouvelles avenues de réappropriation pour l’ensemble des phénomènes spirituels.

Henry Corbin wrote that a “Meister Eckhart and Jacob Boehme would fully understand Ibn ʿArabî, and vice versa.” But how can we ensure this dialogue and mutual understanding anticipated by Henry Corbin? This research is essentially on the conditions of possibilities of this dialogue, especially because the comparison between Ibn al-ʿArabī and Böhme is still in its infancy. By choosing the prism of the imagination, the goal is twofold: approach spiritual phenomena in a non-reductive way by browsing and analyzing the specific logic of imagination; and, under the auspices of the concept of hierohistory, explore the role of imagination in the metaphysics and ethics of Ibn al-ʿArabī and Böhme. It is therefore an effort to read Ibn al-ʿArabī and Böhme as they read themselves the revealed book of their respective tradition. Finally, it appears that the theophanism characteristic of the metaphysics of both Ibn al-ʿArabī and Böhme is a rich haven for imagination and imaginal. If the comparison between Ibn al-ʿArabī and Böhme is stricto sensu impossible, the comparative and transdisciplinary spirit of this research, as well as its the phenomenological-hermeneutic method, opens up new avenues of re-appropriation for all spirituals phenomena.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SUFIism at the Smithsonian: Searching for the Divine through the Arts


 Join us for a two-day symposium attempting to reinterpret, redefine and broaden the concept of SUFIism through scholarly talks, dramatic renderings of mystical poetry, soul-searching music, creative expressions in dance, artist talks, and fascinating films.

Contact: Manjula Kumar at kumarm@si.edu, or on facebook.com/smithsonianeducation/events.