The Concept of Comparative Philosophy

Henry Corbin

One of the striking characteristics of Shi‘ite philosophy in Iran, especially during the past four centuries, has been the insistence on the common vocation of the philosopher and the prophet. The prophet of course is not someone who predicts the future. He is one who utters the language of the invisible. In order that the Sages should appear like the successors of the prophets their philosophy must in its essence be a prophetic philosophy. Still on this point, I believe that all the “urafa”, all the mystical philosophers belonging to the Abrahamic tradition have one trait in common… That is, it is only these Sages who are capable of facing the consequences of the desacralisation of a universe that has been profaned… They belong as much to the West as to the East in this world. They will never be more than a handful of men, unknown to the great mass of people, because they will have renounced the ambitions of this world, and that because they will be aware, like their predecessors, of the moral and human responsibility of men of learning.

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