You are on page 1of 4

Henry Corbin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search For the United States Army general, see Henry Clarke Corbin. Henry Corbin 14 April 1903 Born Paris, France 7 October 1978 (aged 75) Died Paris, France 20th century philosophy Era Western Philosophy Region School of Illumination School Phenomenology Islamic philosophy Main interests Philosophy of religion Ontology Prophetic philosophy, Imaginal Notable ideas world Influenced by[show] Influenced[show] Henry Corbin (14 April 1903 – 7 October 1978) was a philosopher, theologian and professor of Islamic Studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. Corbin was born in Paris in April 1903. As a boy he revealed the profound sensitivity to music so evident in his work. Although he was Protestant by birth, he was educated in the Catholic tradition and at the age of 19 received a certificate in Scholastic philosophy from the Catholic Institute of Paris. Three years later he took his "licence de philosophie" under the great Thomist Étienne Gilson. In 1928 he encountered the formidable Louis Massignon, director of Islamic studies at the Sorbonne, and it was he who introduced Corbin to the writings of Suhrawardi, the 12th century Persian mystic and philosopher whose work was to profoundly affect the course of Corbin’s life. The stage was then set for a personal drama that has deep significance for understanding those cultures whose roots lie in both ancient Greece and in the prophetic religions of the Near East reaching all the way back to Zoroaster. Years later Corbin said “through my meeting with Suhrawardi, my spiritual destiny for the passage through this world was sealed. Platonism, expressed in terms of the Zoroastrian angelology of ancient Persia, illuminated the path that I was seeking.” Corbin is responsible for redirecting the study of Islamic philosophy as a whole. In his Histoire de la philosophie islamique (1964), he disproved the common view that philosophy among the Muslims came to an end after Ibn Rushd, demonstrating rather that a lively philosophical activity persisted in the eastern Muslim world – especially Iran – and continues to our own day.[1]

They remained there until the end of the war. It gives us some sense of the unique perspective of this truly catholic philosopher to note that his copy of the notoriously difficult and very German work was marked throughout by glosses in Arabic. This was his reading of Martin Heidegger's foundational work of phenomenology.1 Official website o 9. The first is the 1920s and 1930s. when he was involved in learning and teaching western philosophy. From the 1950s on he spent autumn in Tehran. the Corbins traveled for the first time to Tehran where he was to teach as a member of Tehran University.2 Tom Cheetham's Corbin Blog o 9. in which he studied and reintroduced eastern and Islamic philosophy. The last begins at 1946 and lasts until his death. He was the first to translate the early works of Karl Barth into French. The second is the years between 1939 and 1946. In 1949.[2] But his spiritual quest extended well beyond the vast landscapes of western scholasticism and Islamic mysticism. Mircea Eliade. Gershom Scholem. In 1954 he succeeded Louis Massignon in the Chair of Islam and the Religions of Arabia. in which he studied Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi and School of Illumination in Istanbul. In 1939 they traveled to Istanbul to collect manuscripts for a critical edition of Suhrawardi. on a regular basis . Being and Time. They returned to Paris one year later in July 1946. Switzerland. In 1933 he married Stella Leenhardt. In 1945. During the 1920s and the early 1930s he simultaneously pursued studies that in themselves would have marked him as an eclectic Protestant theologian. In 1930 a second defining encounter in Corbin’s spiritual odyssey took place.Contents          1 Life and work 2 Main themes 3 Legacy and influence 4 Selected bibliography 5 See also 6 Notes 7 References 8 Further reading 9 External links o 9. Kierkegaard and Hamann.It was during those stays in Tehran that he made acquaintance with Allameh Tabatabaei with whom he met and exchanged views. He became deeply engaged with the German theological tradition and lectured on Luther. Adolf Portmann and many others. In his maturity Corbin presented himself as a Protestant Christian. where he was to become a major figure along with Carl Jung. winter in Paris and spring in Ascona. Corbin came to love Iran as a second home and the symbolism of the Persian landscape figures prominently in his spiritual universe. . Corbin first attended the annual Eranos Conferences in Ascona.3 Articles Life and work The philosophical life and career of Corbin can be divided into three phases.

at the age of 75. His mysticism is no world-denying asceticism but regards all of Creation as a theophany of the divine. but a threshold to Divine Passion.The three major works upon which his reputation largely rests in the English speaking world were first published in French in the 1950s: Avicenna and the Visionary Recital. The status of Person is not simply bestowed upon us at birth – it is a goal to be achieved. Adams. and the figure of the Angel Holy Spirit is similar to what is sometimes called the Cosmic Christ. The main charges are as follows: His scholarly . He presented his last paper in June 1978. Chittick. Critical assessments have been articulated by Algar. Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi' (see below) and Spiritual Body & Celestial Earth. as yet untranslated. 1999). Eyes of Fire: the Science of Gnosis. hatred and violence postulate one in which Corbin’s work can play an important role. It is the bond between the human soul and the face of the Heavenly Twin. lecturing. and editing critical editions of Persian and Arabic manuscripts. dogma and the institutionalization of religion. in the same city he was born. Some who desire a future for the prophetic tradition which transcends mutual suspicion. translations. the Angel Holy Spirit. Christianity and Islam as manifestations of a single coherent story of the ongoing relationship between the individual and God. The true journey of our lives is measured on a vertical scale. and towards perfection. our ability to perceive beauty. entitled “Eyes of Flesh. Legacy and influence Corbin’s work has been criticized by a number of writers for a variety of reasons. which is the ethical bond par excellence. and human love for a being of beauty is not a hindrance to our union with the Divine. He was a passionate defender of the central role of the individual as the finite image of the Unique Divine. books and articles. His published work includes over 200 critical editions. This vision has much in common with what has become known as Creation Spirituality. writing. linked to this. Our progress on this path is gauged by our capacity for love and. coupled with a radical assessment of the doctrine of the Incarnation. Main themes Though an exhaustive list would be difficult to produce. is the four volume En Islam Iranien: Aspects spirituels et philosophiques.” Prayer is the supreme form of the creative imagination. He considered himself a Protestant Christian but he abandoned a Christocentric view of history. and as such is the ultimate exercise of human freedom. Opposing the imagination is rigid literalism in its myriad forms. there are several main themes which together form the core of the spirituality that Corbin defends. It is the primary means by which we engage with Creation and provides the link “without which the worlds are put out of joint. He pleaded for recognition of the overarching unity of the religions of Abraham. Beauty is the supreme theophany.” He died on 7 October of that year. His magnum opus. and Wasserstrom. The Imagination plays a crucial role in the human and divine orders.[3] His life was spent teaching. This mystical spirituality depends upon the capacity of the human soul to travel a path towards the Angel. who appears uniquely to each of us. The grand sweep of his theology of the Holy Spirit embraces Judaism. Corbin presents a vehement triple critique of idolatry. Walbridge & Ziai (in Suhrawardi. His later major work on Central Asian and Iranian Sufism appears in English with an Introduction by Zia Inayat Khan as The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism.

Pierre Lory. The organization is L’Association des Amis de Henry et Stella Corbin and they maintain a very useful and interesting website. James Morris. Hermann Landolt. these include the following prolific Western scholars of Sufism and Islamic thought: Seyyed Hossein Nasr. In England his influence has been felt in the work of Kathleen Raine.[4] .objectivity has been questioned on the basis of both a Shi’ite bias. The American literary critic Harold Bloom claims Corbin as a significant influence on his own conception of Gnosticism. Phillip Sherrard and other members of the Temenos Academy. and the publication of his posthumous writings. and he has been charged with being both an Iranian nationalist and an elitist in both his politics and his spirituality. James Cowan (Australian author). Corbin was an important source for the archetypal psychology of James Hillman and others who have developed the psychology of Carl Jung. Though this list is far from complete. and his theological agenda. and Todd Lawson. Corbin’s friends and colleagues in France have established a society for the dissemination of his work through meetings and colloquia. Christian Jambet. William Chittick. students and many others influenced by his work. he has been accused of being both ahistorically naive and dangerously politically reactionary. and the American poet Charles Olson was a student of Corbin’s Avicenna and the Visionary Recital. Ali Amir-Moezzi. Forceful rejoinders to the more damning of these critiques by Lory and Subtelny have been particularly lucid. Corbin's ideas continue to have an impact through the work of colleagues.