"...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, October 20, 2009

Mundus Imaginalis or the Imaginary and the Imaginal

It is perhaps worth making this essay available here in spite of the fact that it can also be found online here in a different translation. This pdf version may be more readable and more easily printed. This is the essay as it first appeared in Spring 1972 (Zurich), in a translation by Ruth Horine.

Mundus Imaginalis

The Imaginary and the Imaginal


Henry Corbin

Spring 1972 - Zürich

[This paper, delivered at the Colloquium on Symbolism in Paris in June 1964, appeared in the Cahiers internationaux de symbolisme 6, Brussels 1964, pp. 3—26. The version printed here has been condensed (with the permission of the author) by omitting paragraphs of a technical nature on pages 5 and 8 of the original, as well as an account (pp. 17—23) of the topography of the Eighth Clime. The complete text of this account has been published in H. Corbin, En Islam iranien: aspects spirituels et philosophiques, tome IV, livre 7, Paris: Gallimard, 1971. Other writings of Prof. Corbin have been published regularly in French in the Eranos Jahrbucher. His major works in English translation are: Avicenna and the Visionary Recital (Bollingen Series LXVI) N. Y. and London, 1960 and Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn'Arabi, Princeton and London, 1969. – Eds.]


Blue Animal Skin Carpet - Konya; from Christopher Alexander, A Foreshadowing of 21st Century Art: The Color and Geometry of very Early Turkish Carpets. Oxford University Press, 1993.

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