"...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, August 30, 2016

Items of interest

Perception of Western Modernity from the Gaze of Ṣadraism: 
Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabā’ī’s and Murtaḍā Muṭahharī’s 
Critique of Modern Western Philosophy

Urs Gösken
International Journal of Persian Literature
Vol. 1, No. 1 (2016), pp. 142-163

Among the many Iranian thinkers who dealt with Western intellectual systems and concepts, Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabā’ī (1903–81)1 and Murtaḍā Muṭahharī (1920–79),2 two of the leading religious scholars of their time, stand out as the first to attempt to subject crucial teachings of modern Western philosophy to critical discussion by assessing the intellectual quality of their reasoning and questioning their claim to superiority to premodern philosophical systems.3 The doctrines they mainly engaged in the wake of their project were Cartesianism, empiricism, Kantian criticism, positivism, and Hegelianism. Their intellectual enterprise, going back to the 1950s, comes after a period when Iranian intellectuals’ contact with Western philosophy had been mainly receptive, based on the premise that doctrines of modern philosophy such as positivism and materialism were indispensable for intellectual and cultural progress.4 In the nineteenth century—and up to the 1950s—Iranians who grappled with Western philosophy often did so under the impact of the then-current philosophical teachings in Europe like positivism, scientism, naturalism, and empiricism5 and later, with the growing influence of Marxism on political thinking in Iran, dialectical materialism.6 In selecting the doctrines they came to adopt, they were less guided by purely intellectual interests, and more, perhaps, by intellectual, political, and ideological tendencies. LINK HERE. (jstor)

And from 2002 in the Journal of the Ibn 'Arabi Society XXXII:

A Counter-History of Islam:
Ibn al-'Arabl within the Spiritual Topography of Henry Corbin 
Vahid Brown 

Henry Corbin was one of the most brilliant and sometimes un­ usual minds to rise to prominence in the western study of Islam during the twentieth century. At his death in 1978 he left behind a remarkable legacy of text editions and translations, studies and synopses, ranging over astonishingly wide areas of time and space within and beyond the Islamic world. While primarily dedicating his prodigious labors to the study of Iranian Islam, he also wrote about and translated texts from such varied fields as German existentialism, Rhenish mysticism, and Swedenborg's theology.1 The critical response to Corbin's scholarship has been similarly diverse, and runs a spectrum from ardent devotion to equally ardent objection.2 Among the reservations and notes of caution that are to be found in this critical reception, Corbin's idiosyncratic conception of Iran as the spiritual homeland of Islam's esoteric core is never far from the center of the argument. After examining this and related criticisms, it will be my purpose here to train their light onto one area of Corbin's interests and the object of constant reference in his work - the life and thought of the Andalusian mystical philosopher, Muhyi'd-DIn Ibn al-'Arabl (d.1240) - as embodied primarily in the independ­ ent study, Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi. It will be argued that Corbin's situating of Ibn al-'Arabl within the "spiritual topography" of Iranian gnostic spirituality led to a dis­ tortion and misrepresentation of the Shaykh al-Akbar in Islamic history and thus within the history of religions. FULL TEXT PDF.

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