"...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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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Break with the World

A few years ago I wrote a piece that remains unpublished on Ivan Illich's ideas of the "break with the world" and the "institutionalization of grace." I have considered re-writing this essay for publication (it overlaps with some of my published work, and there are things in it I would do differently) but I am unlikely to do so. It may be that there is something useful in here for others to ponder, and the piece marks a stepping stone for me in my work on Henry Corbin, so I offer it here via Google documents. If nothing else I hope it will turn some people's attention to Illich's work.

 The Break With the World

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Cheetham,

    I downloaded your paper the other day and have been working my way through it. As someone fairly familiar with Illich, including the Rivers North book, I am finding your essay quite interesting and helpful. Thank you. (I've also mentioned it on my blog, such as it is, which is devoted primarily to all things Illich.)
    I would like to bring to your attention a small error in the paper. In two places (p4 and p15), you quote from Illich's paper "The Loss of World and Flesh" a list of place names: Guernica, Leipzig, Bergen-Belsen, and Los Alamos. In fact, Illich cited Dresden, not Leipzig.
    Seeing that name Leipzig made me wonder if there were some atrocity or crime against humanity I had never heard of. Thankfully, no! On the other hand, I was led back to that essay, which had slipped my mind. It is a powerful one.
    Anyway, I look forward to reading more on your blog and in your rich, thoughtful essay about Illich and Corbin (new to me) and others. I have lots to learn.

    Winslow, in Calif.