"...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 5, 2012

Agamben & Corbin, again

I have, thanks to Hadi Fakhoury, some more accurate information on Corbin and Giorgio Agamben.

Agamben makes at least two explicit references to Corbin in his works. The first and perhaps earliest reference to Corbin is in his article, "*Se. L’Assoluto e l’‘Ereignis,’” published in the Italian journal Aut Aut, 187-88 (1982): pp. 39-58. This article appeared in English as "*Se: Hegel's Absolute and Heidegger's Ereignis" in the collection of essays Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy (California: Stanford: 1999), pp. 116-137. Another reference to Corbin can be found in Agamben's essay "Walter Benjamin and the Demonic: Happiness and Historical Redemption," which can also be found in Potentialities, pp. 138-159. In both instances, the references to Corbin are rather incidental. One other explicit reference to Corbin is in the Introduction to a huge (2000+ pages) Italian volume on angels in the Abrahamic tradition, Angeli: Ebraismo, Cristianesimo, Islam (Vicenza: Neri Pozza Editore, 2009), edited by G. Agamben and Emanuele Coccia. Sometimes Agamben draws on Corbin without quoting him, for instance when he makes reference to the notion of the Imam in his book Signatura Rerum. He clearly draws this from Corbin, yet makes no reference to the latter in this instance.
A bit more on Corbin can be found in Giorgio Agamben: a critical introduction by Leland De la Durantaye (searchable online here). The author points out that Agamben drew on both Lacan & Corbin for his discussion of the phenomenon of the mirror.

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