"...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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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Shayegan: Trials and Tribulations of an Iranian Philosopher

London - Amir Taheri

“We had one life, after all,” said the Daryush Shayegan as he sipped his double espresso as if it were the nectar of gods. “The question is: what did we do with it?”

The scene was a just over a year ago in a café in Paris’ posh Avenue Alma Marceau where we had gathered for lunch with a mutual friend, Professor Shahin Fatemi. At the time none of us knew that Daryush was on his last visit to the French capital which he had always regarded as a second home and that, a year later, he would pass away in his first home, his beloved Tehran.

Last Monday, a small group of mourners attended the burial ceremony in Tehran of the 83-year old Daryush under the watchful eyes of “Islamic Security” deployed to make sure there will be no “disturbances.”

The answer to Shayegan’s question, “what did we do with our life”, is both simple and complex in his case.

He has been described as polymath, philosopher, poet, mystic, linguist, and master in “Eastern” civilizations, whatever that means. But he had also dabbled in literary criticism, historic research, and, theological speculation. Moreover, he was also a keen collector and connoisseur of objects of art, books, and calligraphy.

Perhaps as a side-line, he had also dabbled in grand political strategy by promoting the concept of “a dialogue of civilization” which was first adopted by Empress Farah and, after the mullahs seized power in Tehran, Hojat al-Islam Muhammad Khatami who served as President of the Islamic Republic for eight years.

However, those who knew him best remember him for his passionate love of Iran, almost bordering on idolatry, and what he described as his lifelong love affair with the Persian language.

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