Henry Corbin Discussion Group

Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam

Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam, published by the Swedenborg Foundation

Wednesday 7 March 2018, Wednesday 4 April 2018 and Wednesday 2 May 2018 | 2.00 – 4.00 pm | Swedenborg House, 20/21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH | FREE | Refreshments served

Discussions will be led by Max Phillips and Stephen McNeilly


In the current cultural paradigm, which takes for granted the tenets of scientific materialism, the word ‘imaginary’ is often used synonymously with ‘unreal’. However, in most traditional cultures the life of inner experience has been valued as the source of richness and meaning that not only carried importance vis-à-vis the world of matter, but stood in counterbalance to it. Hence, in the Islamic tradition, every phenomenon in the outer-world (Ẓāhir) has its corresponding opposite in the inner world of spirit (bāṭin). The uncovering of these inner worlds (or ‘climates’) is the goal of the spiritual seeker.

The discussions will be based on the publication Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam by the late Islamic scholar and perennial philosopher Henry Corbin. We will begin with the first essay titled 'Mundus imaginalis', which addresses the topic of ‘spiritual imagination’ in both mystical Islam and the thought and experiences of Emanuel Swedenborg. 

Henry Corbin (1903-78) was a philosopher, theologian and professor of Islamic Studies at the École pratique des hautes études in Paris. His work has had a lasting impact with, amongst others, poet Kathleen Raine and critic Harold Bloom citing him as significant influences.

Copies of Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam can be purchased from the Swedenborg House bookshop. You can also download EPUB and Kindle versions direct from the publisher, the Swedenborg Foundation, here.

Session 1 (March 7th): The Eighth Climate, Utopia, or 'Nowhere Place'

Session 2 (April 4th): Spiritual Imagination, or Imaginal Worlds

Session 3 (May 2nd): Topographies of Inner Experience