"...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, January 31, 2017

Philosophy in Islam: The Concept of Shiʿism as a Philosophical Genre
It has been recently argued that there are problems in identifying Islamic philosophy with Shiʿism. This is despite the fact that many Islamic philosophers were actually Shiʿi. An interesting and connected question is whether there is such a thing as Shiʿi philosophy, and many commentators use this term. It looks plausible that a particular theological and religious orientation would be reflected in philosophy. After all, all these views are theoretical and abstract and need to be connected logically, so it would seem likely that they would all be aligned in some way. However, there are problems with such a view, and these rest on two main points. Firstly, theology does not necessarily bring along with it a metaphysics, and so different theological views may be linked with contrary or similar philosophical approaches. To give an example, both Mullā Ṣadrā and Mīr Dāmād were philosophers, and both were Shiʿi, yet they defended entirely different ontologies. Secondly, theology does not necessarily involve a particular style of writing. Some theologians are interested in writing in such a way that only those sympathetic to them understand what they are saying, but many are not. Some direct their work to a particular audience while others seek to address a more general audience. In fact, Shiʿi philosophers often make sure that there is nothing Shiʿi about their work since they want to resonate with the Islamic world as a whole, not only the Shiʿi minority. If we look at a range of Shiʿi philosophers, it will be argued that it is difficult to detect a specific theological line that they embody in their philosophies, and so we should be careful about using the concept of Shiʿi philosophy.

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