The Model of Universals in Kalam Atomism: On al-Juwaynī’s Theory of al-Aḥwal


The theory of the states (ahwāl) under the theological system of Imām al-Haramayn Abū al-Ma'ālī al-Juwaynī (d. 478/1085) and that of the early Ash‘arites can be construed as the understanding of universals as well as the common truths of that system. In that period, however, two different conceptions of truth stand out: those who championed the theory in question and those who rejected it. While the rejecters of the states analyzed truths from a nominal perspective, those who defended this theory referred realistically to a common state and truth the existents (al-mawjūdāt) possess. Consequently, even though they gained closeness to the Aristotelian understanding of universals by adopting a realistic method using the theory of the ahwāl, they have fundamental differences between them. Although the Aristotelian understanding of universals is about objects, theologians’ states are confined to the substance-accident binary as the building blocks of objects in the temporal (hādith) universe. In other words, as far as al-Juwaynī was concerned, theologians are realists with regard to the building blocks of objects and nominalists when considering the entirety of objects. Moreover, unlike the Aristotelian universals, states are never accepted as a subject in propositions. Because of this aspect the states have, secondary substances were not included in the Ash‘arite theology of that early period. Ultimately, accidents (a‘rād) and divine meanings (ma‘ānī) were removed from the category of attributes and replaced by the states. In so doing, accidents and divine meanings have also been included in the category of essences (dhāt) along with proper substances and the divine essence (al-Dhāt al-İlāhī). Hence, a new theological language emerged in the context of the substanceattribute binary, and an ontological position was assigned to the states. However, this position is not the word, mind, object, or space beyond the object. With this framework in mind, the discussion of the theory of the states throughout this article will revolve around three main points: form, scope, and place.


al-Juwaynī truth ahwāl states universals secondary substances realism nominalism