Kegan Paul International in association with the Islamic Publications Ltd
Temple and Contemplation brings together for the first time in English five of Henry Corbin’s lectures, which were originally delivered at sessions of the Eranos Conferences in Ascona, Switzerland. Henry Corbin himself outlined the plan for this book, whose title implies a common focus for these diverse studies.
The two essays that open this collection might appear out of place in the perspective of the Temple; yet Corbin included them precisely to point out that Shiʿi hermeneutics necessarily leads to a theosophy of the Temple – just as the temple itself has no meaning, if we have not the method and ontology to lead us there. From a consideration of the philosophy of colours in Islam, followed by a study of the metaphysical and mystical foundation of the science of correspondences, ‘The Science of the Balance’, the author proceeds to reflect on the role of the heavenly Temple, or the archetype of the Temple, in the spiritual traditions of the Religions of the Book.
No other work of Corbin brings out more clearly the hermeneutic correspondences among spiritual visions belonging to these religions. Thus we understand why Corbin wished to link the themes of ‘Temple’ and ‘Contemplation’: the theory of visionary perception allows for the emergence of the Temple, but the processes of visionary cognition are themselves based on the eternal presence of the Imago Templi.
1. The Realism and Symbolism of Colours in Shiite Cosmology
2. The Science and Balance and the Correspondences between Worlds in Islamic Gnosis
3. Sabian Temple and Ismailism
4. The Configuration of the Temple of the Kaʿbah as the Secret of the Spiritual Life
5. The Imago Templi in Confrontation with Secular Norms
After long periods of research spent in Turkey, Syria, the Lebanon and Egypt, Henry Corbin from 1946 organized the Department of Iranology of the Franco-Iranian Institute in Tehran. There he established and directed the ‘Bibliothèque Iranienne’, an important collection of editions of original Persian and Arabic texts together with analytical studies. From 1954 until 1974 Henry Corbin held the position of ‘directeur d’etudes’ at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Sorbonne (Religious Studies), as the successor of Louis Massignon.
Henry Corbin died on 7 October 1978 at the age of 75. His many publications illustrate a life spent in studies in comparative philosophy and Islamic concepts.