"...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.

Search The Legacy of Henry Corbin: Over 800 Posts

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Todd Lawson at the Ibn Arabi Symposium, 2016

The Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society 33rd Symposium 'Light & Knowledge' 
Wolfson College, Oxford March 2016. 
Video by Ayman Saey

Water and Light pervade the writings of Ibn 'Arabi as they do the Quran itself. In the poetic literalism of Ibn 'Arabi's discourse, these everyday realities are frequently involved in specific events of knowing. Knowledge appears to be built upon water and light. Water and Light are also essential "hormones of the imagination" – they are elements of the natural realm that lead us beyond nature. The living "natural" cosmos and everything in it, according to Ibn 'Arabi, is the imaginal (not imaginary) projection of the divine. Imagination is the single most powerful divine activity and it issues in what is frequently referred to in scripture as "creation". Humankind participate in this activity through the imagination. As Ibn ‘Arabi frequently has it, God describes the cosmos to us through us (laná biná). This issues in the most stirring and transformative instances of knowing. The light of the imagination draws us together to the primal scene of our collective beginning on the Day of the Covenant (Q 7:172), the birthplace of time, history and consciousness where we were all gathered in peace in the divine presence – in Quranic language much loved and venerated by Ibn 'Arabi, where "all are created from the same water " (Q 21:30). The poetic dynamics of water and light in the Quran and Ibn 'Arabi's writings generates a noetic and experiential music of remembrance, recognition and knowledge through which the revelation of our common humanity is nourished, our sense of our common dependence upon the Real is articulated and deepened, and our common engagement with the imaginal realm illumined and guided.

The purpose of this talk is to explore what appear to be similarities among three different Quranic elements which acquire significant importance in the writings of Ibn Arabi and to speculate on the nature of knowing, how it comes to be and what are its proper focii. Through considering the poetics of the Quran and the poetics of Ibn Arabi we hope to deepen our understanding of his teaching and, of course, the teaching of Islam. In this we will try to explicate how these three elements “hang together” to communicate something essential about the nature of the world we live in and the nature of the instrument we use to consider that world. Furthermore, we will offer some suggestions about the relationship between the dynamics of water, light and knowledge in conjunction with the imaginal activity of the Real and learning from Ibn ‘Arabi that the circulation of these metaphorical realities throughout the cosmos is the very life of the world and those in it. Some focus, toward the end of the talk, will fall on the “immutable entities” and their role in the ecological toning of the imagination.

Dr. Todd Lawson
Professor Emeritus
University of Toronto
1509 Sherbrooke St W
Apartment 34
Montreal, Quebec

No comments:

Post a Comment