"...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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Friday, May 19, 2017

Imaginal Politics

Images Beyond Imagination and the Imaginary

Chiara Bottici

Columbia University Press, 2014

Between the radical, creative capacity of our imagination and the social imaginary we are immersed in is an intermediate space philosophers have termed the imaginal, populated by images or (re)presentations that are presences in themselves. Offering a new, systematic understanding of the imaginal and its nexus with the political, Chiara Bottici brings fresh perspective to the formation of political and power relationships and the paradox of a world rich in imagery yet seemingly devoid of imagination.

Bottici begins by defining the difference between the imaginal and the imaginary, locating the imaginal's root meaning in the image and its ability to both characterize a public and establish a set of activities within that public. She identifies the imaginal's critical role in powering representative democracies and its amplification through globalization. She then addresses the troublesome increase in images now mediating politics and the transformation of politics into empty spectacle. The spectacularization of politics has led to its virtualization, Bottici observes, transforming images into processes with an uncertain relationship to reality, and, while new media has democratized the image in a global society of the spectacle, the cloned image no longer mediates politics but does the act for us. Bottici concludes with politics' current search for legitimacy through an invented ideal of tradition, a turn to religion, and the incorporation of human rights language.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Chiara Bottici is assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research and the author of A Philosophy of Political Myth, Men, and States, and, with Benoît Challand, The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations and Imagining Europe: Myth, Memory, and Identity.

Part 1. Imagining
1. From Phantasia to Imagination
2. From Imagination to the Imaginary and Beyond?
3. Toward a Theory of the Imaginal
Part 2. Politics
4. A Genealogy of Politics: From Its Invention to the Biopolitical Turn
5. Imaginal Politics
6. Contemporary Transformations Between Spectacle and Virtuality
Part 3. The Global Spectacle
7. The Politics of the Past: The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations
8. The Repositioning of Religion in the Public Sphere: Imaginal Consequences
9. Imagining Human Rights: Gender, Race, and Class
The Freedom of Equals: A Conclusion and a New Beginning

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