"...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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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Corbin at Eranos

Henry Corbin's Lectures at Eranos
From the Complete Bibliography
(Listed by the year the lectures were delivered.)

The Eranos Foundation remains active on the shores of Lago Maggiore in Ascona, Switzerland. Their website provides, among other things, a history and details of the past conferences, lecturers and the Eranos Yearbooks. Many of these volumes are in print and available from Daimon Verlag. (It should be noted that there is another organization that has claimed the Eranos name. The link above is to the official Foundation in Ascona at the site of Olga Froebe-Kapteyn's original property.)

Corbin was first invited to speak in Ascona in 1949 as a replacement for Louis Massignon who characteristically refused to comply with the Eranos rule that politics not be discussed at the Conferences.

Corbin wrote a Forward for this book of Eranos Lectures edited by Joseph Campbell that describes the Eranos experience as he saw it: « The Time of Eranos », in: Man and Time: Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks. New York: Pantheon Books, 1957.

The Lectures

1949 « Le Récit d’initiation et l’hermétisme en Iran (recherche angélologique)», Eranos-Jahrbuch, XVII/1949. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1950.
1950 « Le Livre du Glorieux de Jâbir ibn Hayyân (alchimie et archétypes) », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XVIII/1950, Zurich : Rhein-Verlag, 1950.
1951 « Rituel sabéen et exégèse ismaélienne du rituel », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XIX/1950, Zurich : Rhein-Verlag, 1951.
1952 « Le Temps cyclique dans le mazdéisme et dans l’ismaélisme », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XX/1951, Zurich : Rhein-Verlag, 1952.
1953 « Terre céleste et corps de résurrection d’après quelques traditions iraniennes (Mazdéisme, Ishrâq, Shaykhisme) », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXII/1953. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1954.
1954 « Epiphanie divine et naissance spirituelle dans la gnose ismaélienne » (texte original de la traduction anglaise infra, 1963-5), Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXIII/1954. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1955.
1955 « Sympathie et théopathie chez les ‘Fidèles d’Amour’ en Islam », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXIV/1955. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1956.
1956 « Imagination créatrice et prière créatrice dans le soufisme d’Ibn ’Arabî », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXV/1956. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1957.
1957 « L’Intériorisation du sens herméneutique soufie iranienne : Sa’inoddîn ’Alî Torka Ispahânî et ’Alâoddawla Semnânî », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXVI/1957. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1958.
1958 « Quiétude et inquiétude de l’âme dans le soufisme de Rûzbehân Baqlî de Shîrâz », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXVII/1958. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1959.
1959 « L’Imâm caché et la rénovation de l’homme en théologie shî’ite », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXVIII/1959. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1960.
1960 « Pour une morphologie de la spiritualité shî’ite », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXIX/1960. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1961.
1961 « Le Combat spirituel du shî’isme », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXX/1961. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1962.
1962 « De la philosophie prophétique en Islam shî’ite », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXXI/1962. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1963. « In memoriam Olga Froebe », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXXI/1962. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1963.
1963 « Au ‘pays’ de l’Imâm caché », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXXII/1963. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1964.
1964 « Herméneutique spirituelle comparée : I. Swedenborg, II. Gnose ismaélienne », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXXII/1964. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1965.
1965 « La Configuration du Temple de la Ka‘ba comme secret de la vie spirituelle d’après l’œuvre de Qâzî Sa‘îd Qommî (1103/1691) », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXXIV/1965, Zurich: Rhein-Verlag, 1966.
1966 « De la épopée héroïque à l’épopée mystique », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXXV/1966. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1967.
1967 « Face de Dieu et face de l’homme », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXXVI/1967, Zurich: Rhein-Verlag, 1968.
1969 « Le Récit du nuage blanc (Hadîth al-ghamâma) commenté par Qâzî Sa‘îd Qommî (1103/1691) », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXXVIII/1969. Zurich, Rhein-Verlag, 1971.
1970 « L’Esotérisme et le verbe ou l’initiation ismaélienne », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXXIX/1970, Leiden : Brill, 1973.
1971 « Juvénilité et chevalerie (Javânmardî) en Islam iranien », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XL/1971, Leiden : Brill, 1973, pp 311-356.
1972 « Symbolisme et réalisme des couleurs en cosmologie shî’ite d’après l’œuvre de Mohammad Karîm-Khan Kermânî », », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XLI/1972, Leiden : Brill, 1974.
1973 « La Science de la balance et les correspondances entre les mondes en gnose islamique d’après l’œuvre de Haydar Âmolî (VIII/XIVe s.) », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XLII/1973, Leiden : Brill, 1975.
1974 « L’Imago Templi face aux profanes », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XLIII/1974, Leiden : Brill, 1977.
1976 « Le paradoxe du monothéisme », Eranos-Jahrbuch, XLV/1976. Leiden, Brill, 1980.

Critical Histories & Analysis

Hakl, Hans Thomas. Der verborgene Geist von Eranos: unbekannte Begegnungen von Wissenschaft und Esoterik : eine alternative Geistesgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts. Bretten: Scientia Nova, Verlag Neue Wissenschaft, 2001. English translation: Hakl, Hans Thomas. Eranos: An Alternative Intellectual History of the 20th Century. Oakville: David Brown Book, Forthcoming, 2010.
From the publisher:
Few people are aware that from 1933 and for a period of almost seventy years, many of the worlds leading intellectuals met annually at Ascona on Lake Maggiore to give scholarly lectures about their latest insights in the fields of religion, philosophy, history, art and science and in particular to explore religion with an emphasis on its mystical and symbolic aspects. Known as the Eranos meetings (Eranos in Ancient Greek meant banquet), participants over the years comprised a galaxy of illustrious names in many branches of the humanities and sciences: Carl Gustav Jung, Erich Neumann, Mircea Eliade, Martin Buber, Walter F. Otto, Paul Tillich, Gershom Scholem, Sir Herbert Read, Joseph Campbell, Erwin Schrödinger, Karl Keréyni, D.T. Suzuki, Adolph Portmann and many others. Based on archival material, printed sources, private letters and interviews with Eranos presenters and participants, Hakl presents the only complete study of what is arguably the single most important gathering of scholars in the twentieth century. With a masterful hand, Hakl skillfully weaves together portraits of the exceptional people involved, their significance in the world of learning, the way they interacted with each other as well as the manifold influences that the meetings exerted. While in general sympathetic to the Eranos spirit, the author does not try to hide the negative aspects of the concern with esotericism, such as the Islamicist Henry Corbin's sympathy for the reign of the Shah, nor the Eranos patron (and OSS member) Paul Mellons' massive holdings in Iranian Oil. The final chapter concerns itself with an exploration of the political implications of the Eranos phenomenon and the tendency among esotericists towards authoritarian standpoints. The vignettes it offers of the lives and lively debates of leading twentieth century intellectuals will attract readers interested in the history of ideas, psychology, religious and cultural studies, Jewish and Islamic studies, the history of science, mysticism and the development of the new age religions. 480p, 47 b/w photos (Equinox Publishing 2009)

Wasserstrom, Steven M. Religion After Religion: Gershom Scholem, Mircea Eliade, and Henry Corbin at Eranos, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1999.

Wasserstrom's book sparked a good deal of debate at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. A record of the Symposium can be had here: Journal of the American Academy of Religion 2001, 69(2): 427 Symposium on Wasserstrom 1999. (pdf file requires subscription access).

Wasserstrom's critical remarks concerning Corbin's presumed politics and ideology have been addressed in print by Lory, Subtelney and Versluis as cited below:

Pierre Lory's Review of Wasserstrom
Maria E. Subtelny, “History and Religion: The Fallacy of Metaphysical Questions (A Review Article).” Iranian Studies: March 2003, 36(1): 91-101.
Arthur Versluis' Review at Esoterica.

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