"...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, October 16, 2009

Towards a Chart of the Imaginal

Prelude to the Second Edition of
de l’Iran Mazdeen a l’Iran Shi’ite


This brief essay is worth posting here in spite of its availability elsewhere (including Temenos 1 (London, 1981) pp.23-36). I have on more than one occasion found that it is unknown to people who otherwise are familiar with Corbin's Spiritual Body & Celestial Earth (Princeton University Press, 1977). This "Prelude" to the Second Edition of CORPS SPIRITUEL ET TERRE CELESTE, de l’Iran Mazdeen a l’Iran Shi’ite (1st ed. 1961, 2nd ed. 1979) appears in the English edition only with the Fifth Printing (1989) of the book and may be unknown to those who have copies printed before then. The essay is of considerable interest for many reasons, not least because it addresses concerns Corbin had about the use and misuse of the term imaginal which came to his attention as his neologism gained in popularity.

Photo: Jerry Uelsmann. Untitled, 1992.

Chart of the Imaginal

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your site. I ordered your book from Amazon yesterday and it will arrive shortly. I am particularly interested in the realm of the Imaginal as Henri Corbin articulated it. Are there other articles by him or other scholars that you would recommend? I have read several of his translations of Iranian cosmology but want to focus in on the Imaginal.