A Critical Review of Hasan Spiker’s “Things as They Are: The Metaphysical Foundations of Objective Truth”

In recent years there has been a welcome increase in the number of Islamic philosophical works produced in Near Western languages. Unlike most of the historically or philologically oriented works produced in Near Western languages such as English, French, or German, these works are produced by thinkers who are normatively committed to the traditions in which they work; rather than giving third person descriptions which often miss the mark, or arguing for historical claims about who said what, or who influenced whom, the new generation of authors are arguing for and against philosophical claims (although a sufficient amount of historical knowledge is often necessary). These thinkers are engaged with their tradition in a manner that seeks to contribute to it by examining new problems within classical frameworks, or by looking at older problems within modified frameworks, or a mix of both. One recent contribution that seeks to defend classical Islamic frameworks and provide a response to modern problems is Hasan Spiker’s Things as They Are: The Metaphysical Foundations of Objective Truth[1].

As the title indicates, the book is meant to be an exposition and defence of traditional Islamic correspondence theories of truth, all of which revolve around the notion of nafs al-amr or ‘objective reality.’ The book is divided into four chapters. In the first chapter, Spiker introduces the question of nafs al-amr and argues for the need to determine its identity in order for us to make sense of the various Islamic sciences, from law to theology, and everything else. The second chapter involves a brief discussion of nafs al-amr in the Islamic tradition, then goes on a long digression on the history of the concept in Near Western thought from Plato to Kant (the story of their alleged wholesale descent into subjectivism), before abruptly turning back to the Islamic tradition, with an eye to examining Platonic, exemplarist approaches therein. The third chapter criticizes classical truthmaking accounts within the Islamic tradition stemming from what Spiker describes as the Avicennan or Peripatetic tradition. Specifically, Spiker argues that figures like Saʿd al-Dīn al-Taftāzānī fail to offer convincing accounts for truths regarding abstract objects. The fourth and longest chapter is where Spiker offers an account of Akbarian ontology with some Neoplatonic modifications.

According to Spiker, the most fundamental challenge facing a revitalized Islamic philosophy today is the problem of objective truth. Modern philosophical discourse – as opposed to medieval or ancient discourse – is rife with ‘relentlessly and routinely applied leitmotifs of doubt.’

According to Spiker, the most fundamental challenge facing a revitalized Islamic philosophy today is the problem of objective truth. Modern philosophical discourse – as opposed to medieval or ancient discourse – is rife with ‘relentlessly and routinely applied leitmotifs of doubt.’ Do ‘our diverse Islamic philosophical and theological traditions’ have what it takes to address the challenges of ‘subjectivism, relativism, nominalism, deflationism, and the multifarious incarnations of scepticism threatening to shake the foundations of our revealed view of the world?’[2] Indeed, it is of little utility to seek out proofs for the truth of Islam’s main claims before one demonstrates that such an activity is even possible. Spiker writes:

Whence the importance of the question of the identity of nafs al-amr, particular in the times in which we are living? The requirements of logical rigour entail the insufficiency of the mere provision of putative proofs for the tenets of Islamic creed. This is because even more fundamentally, our method of providing proof must be demonstrated to be sound. As we indicated at the beginning of this chapter, our contemporary circumstances dictate that justification must be newly provided for the metaphysical principles presupposed by our natural theology.[3]

Spiker recognizes that the theory of objective truth in the Islamic tradition is treated under the heading of nafs al-amr or ‘the thing itself,’ and that the standard analysis of the concept by the majority of scholarship is ‘fundamentally sound.’[4] The term is clear enough: nafs al-amr or literally ‘the thing itself’ is a qualification for a proposition which is meant to point out the fact of the matter, irrespective of how any one particular agent may grasp it. For example, if we say that ‘Zayd lives in California’ is true in nafs al-amr, it means that, independently of what anyone believes about the proposition, Zayd in fact lives in California. Despite the relative clarity of the notion, Spiker later argues that this kind of ‘vague intuition’ is insufficient for establishing the foundations of objective truth.[5] Rather, we must identify nafs al-amr: what is it? Or to put it in his terms, ‘Where do things exist as they are in themselves?’[6] Where are those referents of our propositions, especially when they are not sensible, extramental particulars?[7] While Spiker offers no analysis of even basic propositions where the referents are sensible particulars, he does not appear to think that the grounds of those propositions are sensible particulars either. Furthermore, he argues, if we limit the set of all truthmakers to ‘sensible extramental particulars’ and ‘mental entities,’ then our account will fall short of explaining the truth of propositions with abstract predicates.[8] If we have no satisfactory account of such abstracta, the argument goes, we cannot embark upon the task of traditional natural theology. Spiker wavers between giving accounts of various scholars and arguing for one such solution himself, but roughly the idea he presents is some form of Platonism about forms, corresponding to theories like that of the ‘Immutable Archetypes’ in Akbarian philosophy.

There are several glaring problems with Spiker’s line of argument, hardly any of which he addresses in his book. The first is that the identity of nafs al-amr is something that itself requires proof.[9]

There are several glaring problems with Spiker’s line of argument, hardly any of which he addresses in his book. The first is that the identity of nafs al-amr is something that itself requires proof.[9] So, if it is the case – as Spiker claims – that proofs themselves need to be validated by an investigation into the identity of nafs al-amr, and nafs al-amr itself cannot be identified without proof, then we are left in a vicious circle. The truth is that the possibility of offering proofs, or the soundness of arguments, or, as it is put in traditional works of kalām, whether reflection can yield knowledge, is a separate question from what the nature of reality is, or what the ‘identity’ of nafs al-amr is. Moreover, Spiker’s suggestion for the identity of nafs al-amr are the ‘Immutable Archetypes’ of the school of Ibn ʿArabī, arguably a riff off of the classical kalām theory of the Baṣran Muʿtazila, is itself highly questionable, and rejected by the Sunni kalām tradition (which Spiker considers unscrupulous in its critique of the Muʿtazilī view).[10] And, as we just saw, if proof itself requires us to postulate the ‘Immutable Archetypes,’ and the immutable archetypes themselves require proof, then we are in a vicious circle. It is quite difficult to see how such a view is meant to save the Islamic community from ‘the relentless skepticism of modern philosophy.’[11]

In other words, it appears that Spiker fails to distinguish between epistemic objectivity and ontological objectivity. The fact of the matter is, we do know things about the world, and some of that knowledge is non-inferential, and some of it is inferential. This is a fact which is epistemically independent of what knowledge is and what the objects of our knowledge are; epistemic objectivity can be achieved independently of the particulars of our ontology or our epistemology. Furthermore, what we are concerned with when it comes to knowledge or truth is epistemic objectivity; we can have epistemically objective sciences even about subject-matters that are ontologically subjective – that is, objects which are dependent on human intentions, habits, customs, actions, and deliberations (e.g., psychology, law, grammar, semantics-rhetoric, chess, art, literature, and so on). That is, there are epistemically objective truths even about subjective states of affairs; and something being subjective in this sense does not make it ‘relative’ in some concerning way. To establish epistemic objectivity, one need not engage in any detailed analysis of ontology; the only assumptions one needs for natural theology (or any other science about an objective subject-matter) are rather modest: (1) that there is a mind-independent reality, and (2) that we can know things about it. The entire premise of the book is called into question by this rather obvious observation, yet Spiker does not address it even once. Instead, after offering some rather unimpressive skeptical scenarios which Spiker appears to find convincing, he claims that the likes of Taftāzānī have not even realized what the problem of objectivity is, let alone attempted a solution.[12]

Second, to even seek an identity for nafs al-amr at all is a category mistake of the kind that Spiker thinks the kalām tradition is guilty of.[13] When scholars use the term ‘nafs al-amr’ when qualifying a proposition, all they mean to do is point out that the proposition in question is being evaluated with respect to the subject itself, irrespective of how one person or another may construe that subject. As I said earlier, it is a way of qualifying our statements to point out that what we are interested in is the fact of the matter. For example, if we say that ‘Zayd is a knower in nafs al-amr,’ all we mean is that Zayd himself, independently of what anyone thinks about Zayd, is in fact a knower. Apply this now to any other proposition. The result is that nafs al-amr is a term that qualifies our statements, and it is not an object itself, nor a realm in which objective truths somehow reside. To reify nafs al-amr, and to seek out its ‘identity’ as though it were a single thing or object, is already a major failure in understanding the meaning of the term. Spiker does not raise or address this problem.

Third, even if we accept Spiker’s suggestion that nafs al-amr refers to the immutable archetypes ‘in’ God’s knowledge, the solution itself is very unconvincing. The very same objections which Spiker takes to apply to Nasir al-Din al-Tusi’s suggestion that nafs al-amr refers to the essences existing in the active intellect – which is just the cosmic version of the theory of mental existence – equally apply to his own suggestion.[14] Spiker agrees that if nafs al-amr were identified with the Active Intellect, then ‘the Divine knowledge itself would have to correspond to it, which seems a clear metaphysical category mistake.’[15] In the same vein, if the statement ‘God exists’ is true if and only if it corresponds to God’s knowledge, and God’s knowledge itself is essentially posterior to God’s existence, then the statement ‘God exists’ would be true if and only if it corresponds to something which is essentially posterior to it, implying that God’s existence is somehow dependent on God’s knowledge, which is another vicious circle. So, either that statement is false, meaning God does not exist; or it is neither true nor false, which is at best counter-intuitive. Again, Spiker does not address this problem in his book, even though it is mentioned in some of the sources he cites.[16] If he says that there is no circularity here because God’s knowledge just is God’s existence, then it does nothing to avail him, because in nafs al-amr, God’s knowledge is an ‘aspect’ of God’s existence, and this degree of priority is sufficient for the circularity to obtain. If they respond by saying that they are ‘identical’ to the degree where there is no such priority, then to speak of ‘divine knowledge’ as opposed to ‘existence’ no longer has meaning, let alone explanatory power. Besides this, it should be rather obvious that if the statement ‘God exists’ is true, then it should correspond to the fact that God exists, and not to some kind of form or representation of God in God’s knowledge.

In the same vein, if the statement ‘God exists’ is true if and only if it corresponds to God’s knowledge, and God’s knowledge itself is essentially posterior to God’s existence, then the statement ‘God exists’ would be true if and only if it corresponds to something which is essentially posterior to it, implying that God’s existence is somehow dependent on God’s knowledge, which is another vicious circle. So, either that statement is false, meaning God does not exist; or it is neither true nor false, which is at best counter-intuitive. Again, Spiker does not address this problem in his book…

Fourth, Spiker repeatedly speaks as though extramental existence is restricted to ‘sensible particulars,’ even though he is well aware that this is false (because, for example, God exists extramentally, but is not a physical existence).[17] Nevertheless, he never brings this up in the body of his text. The reason is that he wants to present the standard account of nafs al-amr as being inadequate to account for the truths of propositions with abstract predicates. As such, he effectively uses the term ‘mental existence’ to refer only to human minds, and ‘extramental existence’ to refer only to physical particulars. Then he claims – without argument – that abstract predicates cannot be true of physical particulars, and second, if we claim they are true ‘in the mind’ then we have succumbed to the trap of ‘subjectivism.’ But this is not what the standard account claims. For one thing, mental existence is not limited to human minds: it also includes superlunary intellects (on the assumption they even exist) and Divine Knowledge. It is, in other words, the existence of essences in cognition, no matter who the cognizing agent is. Extramental existence, meanwhile, is a negative qualification, meaning the existence of things externally to any cognizing agent. In other words, the distinction between mental existence and extramental existence is logically exhaustive: there is no third middle, because everything either exists in the mind, or exists not in a mind. I find it difficult to accept that Spiker is unaware of this and yet he never once raises the issue in his book, which raises the question: why? One obvious answer is that if he did present it in this way, then much of his argumentation would lose its efficacy. If he uses the terms as they are properly understood, rather than the idiosyncratic way he deploys them in the book, there are no longer any obvious gaps in the standard account of truthmakers.

Fifth, Spiker seems to confuse yet another two notions: the grounds for the truth of a proposition, which is what nafs al-amr deals with, and the grounds for its intelligibility, which is about what makes things knowable to us. The question of intelligibility is often hashed out in terms of universals or aḥwāl, the theory of abstract modal properties in classical kalām. We all agree, for example, that Zayd is a human being. But ‘human’ is a universal predicate, while Zayd is a particular being. The question is, what makes it possible for us to recognize that Zayd is a human being? According to some, it is because Zayd participates in an extramentally existent universal property of ‘humanity;’ according to others, the universal is a linguistic predicate which is true of Zayd by himself, and not by virtue of some abstract property that Zayd participates in. Abstract predicates do not entail the existence of an extramental property, because such predicates end up being aspects of the concrete being itself, and not anything additional to it. Meanwhile, the proponents of universal properties then disagreed: are universals immanent in things (Aristotle, aḥwāl theorists) or are they transcendent (Plato)? All of these different approaches agree that there is a mind-independent reality which we can know and argue about; that is, nafs al-amr is conceptually independent of any of these ontologies, and the question of how it grounds the truth of a proposition is distinct from the question of how those ontologies might ground the intelligibility of a proposition.

Worse than the failure of Spiker’s proposed solution to this putative problem are the theological consequences of his positions. Spiker will say that it is not accurate to say that God exists, although it is indispensable in everyday speech, and much of the ontology he endorses is not something accessible to proof but only the unveilings of the select few: God is ‘absolute unity,’ beyond even existence and non-existence, and the Muhammadan Reality is the eternal first determination of the Divine,[18] and neither of these propositions, nor any other that Spiker believes holds the key to responding to ‘modern philosophy,’ is something that can be demonstrated by proof, so what is the point of talking about the need for objective grounds of proof to begin with? The ‘natural theology’ which he deploys in his introduction as a means to motivate readers to see the value in his project is something he does not in fact aim to support. Indeed, as it turns out, Spiker has no interest in what his readers might have in mind when they think of ‘traditional natural theology,’ but this only becomes clear in the latter half of the book. Thus, at the outset, the book appears to be an appeal to ground natural theology and other Islamic sciences, but in fact, this is a false pretense. The real purpose of the book is to simply advocate for the monist metaphysics of Akbarian philosophy, with modifications from other contemporary thinkers.[19]

It is also noteworthy that Spiker begins his book by stating that all three traditions he will engage with – the Avicennan, the ‘late kalām,’ and the Akbarian – are all independently capable of safeguarding ‘traditional metaphysics and theology from the scepticism of subjectivist criticism.’[20] But he goes on to argue that, actually, Avicennian philosophy and the ‘higher’[21] kalām of the post-classical period are both incapable of escaping the scepticism of subjectivist criticism.[22] Indeed, Spiker appears to believe that Kantian critique of metaphysics is effective against them, in addition to presenting some other sceptical scenarios of his own. Crucially, however, he does not critically assess these sceptical scenarios: he simply presents them as though that were enough. As for the ‘simple kalam’ of rudimentary thinkers like the Shaykh of Ahl al-Sunna, Abu’l-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī, or the Chief Justice al-Bāqillānī, one need not even mention them in the bibliography: it is taken for granted in this book that they have nothing to offer that is even worth refuting. Later thinkers, such as al-Imām al-Sanūsī, who ‘hearkened back’ to that ‘simplified kalām,’ are likewise dismissed.[23] Ironically, ‘mental’ talk is absent in classical kalām: they are direct realists about perception and knowledge, which neutralizes the possibility of subjectivism which Spiker thinks applies to the ‘Avicennian’ kalām tradition.

In a couple of videos posted online (since removed),[24] Spiker claims that I have made an elementary error in understanding Neoplatonic philosophy. The statement ‘beyond being’ is only meant to deny that God is a ‘substance.’ But what I am referring to above is not the statement ‘beyond being,’ but to the fact that Spiker clearly states that the predicates ‘being’ and ‘existence’ are only said of God due to practical necessity. Strictly speaking, these predicates are not true of God. Nowhere does he state that ‘what I actually mean by this is a denial of substancehood.’ One of his most important aims in this book is to affirm what is unindividuated, and this is what he appears to believe about God. According to all other schools of Islam, what is not individuated does not exist at all. Here is what he says on page 127:

I do not suggest, of course, that we cease to utilize the terms ‘being’ or ‘existence’ (the ability to refer to determinateness considered in terms of the source of that determinateness, as ‘being’, is an indispensable convenience entailed by any metaphysical system I can conceive of); rather, I am merely pointing out that the most genuinely primary and therefore real dimensions of our metaphysical discourse and our discourse about God, are founded in notions of ‘unity,’ rather than any vague notion of ‘existence itself;’ and this is taught, it seems clear, not only by the higher forms of philosophy, but moreover by the religion of tawḥīd, or ‘making one’ itself. And after all, the sublime riches of the Beautiful Names that the religion of tawḥīd has bestowed upon us, leave us decisively free of any need to contrive our own ‘master name,’ a coherent sense for which cannot even be found.

The gist is that ‘existence’ and ‘non-existence’ are only said of the determinate or individual. But according to the Neoplatonic system, since the One is not determinate, it is also not said to be existent or non-existent.

The gist is that ‘existence’ and ‘non-existence’ are only said of the determinate or individual. But according to the Neoplatonic system, since the One is not determinate, it is also not said to be existent or non-existent. Nevertheless, it is an indispensable convenience to speak about God as existing, so we cannot do otherwise. There is no suggestion at all, from this section or this discussion, that all Spiker seeks to deny is ‘substancehood.’ The denial of substancehood is something agreed upon by all schools of Islam when ‘substance’ is taken to mean the first of the ten Aristotelian categories, since ‘substance’ here is understood to be ‘contingent substance.’ But substance also has the meaning of something existing by itself, or existing not in a subject, and in this sense, it is true of the Necessary Being (but it is not used due to the ambiguity). Indeed, in such a banal sense, the predicate ‘beyond being’ would be true of accidents as well; this is not a particularly profound thesis, and not worth writing a whole book on. So, either Spiker believes that God exists, or he does not believe that God exists. If he does not, he is in some trouble. If he does, then he should not use this kind of ambiguous language without clarifying it.

All in all, the book suffers from several major philosophical and theological shortcomings: (1) The premise of the book is fallacious. The validity of our proofs and the possibility of acquiring knowledge through reflection is not dependent on identifying nafs al-amr. As explained above, to stipulate this is to succumb to a vicious circle. In making this claim, Spiker fails to distinguish between epistemic objectivity and ontological objectivity. We can have an epistemically objective science independently of the question of ontology. (2) The question of seeking the identity of nafs al-amr is a category mistake. Nafs al-amr is not a single mysterious entity that we are fervently seeking to find. It rather refers to whatever it is we happen to speaking about. Nafs al-amr is a metaphysically neutral term: it can be validly used even by an absolute nihilist who says “There exists absolutely nothing in nafs al-amr.” It presupposes nothing about ontology. Indeed, it can even be used – albeit in a self-defeating way – by an absolute relativist, who says: ‘in nafs al-amr, everything exists only insofar as agents take them to exist.’ In other words, Spiker is conflating the extension of nafs al-amr with its intension, and proposing the former as a solution to a problem that only the latter is relevant to. (3) Spiker’s suggestion of the identity of nafs al-amr – assuming that seeking its identity is even a coherent pursuit – also succumbs to the circular reasoning that applies in (1). (4) Spiker straw-mans the standard account by making readers think that the extramental domain is restricted to physical existence, and ‘mental existence’ is restricted to human minds. In fact, the extramental domain is more general than the physical, and the mental domain is more general than human minds. (5) He confuses the grounds for truth with the grounds of intelligibility. What is worse is that nowhere in this book does Spiker even raise these problems let alone address them. It is for these reasons – and several more – that the book is hardly coherent.

Lastly, throughout the book, Spiker indicates that the classical school and the post-classical tradition of al-Imam al-Sanūsī have nothing of philosophical value to offer.[25] This appears to be based on a rather strange and erroneous claim that these works do not engage in the study of ‘general metaphysics’ or ‘al-umūr al-ʿāmma.’[26] But this is also a major mistake. Spiker appears to confuse the absence of an independent chapter on umūr ʿāmma, with the absence of the analysis of the actual contents of umūr ʿāmma. He claims that rather, the tradition of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī is of a higher order because it does take these topics seriously. Unfortunately for Spiker, many of al-Fakhr al-Rāzī’s major works also do not have any chapter or section on “general metaphysics” (such as his Nihāyat al-ʿuqūl or al-Arbaʿīn), but this does not mean that such topics are not addressed. They are addressed as needed in the relevant sections of other chapters, such as the creation of the world, the existence of God, and the attributes of God, and so on. The same goes for all classical works of kalām, which Spiker does not appear to have deeply engaged; and if he has, he has not been able to develop a holistic understanding of them or convey this sufficiently in this work. There are other serious problems as well. For example, Spiker’s text exhibits a real failure to understand the schools of philosophy which he claims to pass judgement over; furthermore, he often misrepresents figures in the tradition in order to serve his agenda by citing some of their statements and ignoring others, even if they are only a few lines away on the same page.[27]  For those who are interested in more detailed analysis of the many scientific errors in Spiker’s book, I have written a much more detailed review in Arabic, which I have made available here.

Abdurrahman Mihirig is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.

[1] Hasan Spiker, Things as They Are: Nafs al-amr and the Metaphysical Foundations of Objective Truth, (Abu Dhabi: Tabah Research, 2021) 228 pages.

[2] Spiker, Things, 1. Spiker never elaborates on what any of these views are, why precisely they are a problem, and how his brand of Neoplatonism manages to respond to them. It is as if he has come to believe that the rubric for truth is to be ‘anti-modern,’ and in that vein, following Gerson – who follows Rorty – he makes philosophy into a kind of political-ideological struggle that requires one either to be a Platonist or a Naturalist. If I were to make a general observation about this kind of intellectual trend among Western Muslims, I would say this: it is fundamentally inspired by the European philosophical tradition, with an interest in forms of Islamic thought as an answer to what they take to be the most salient spiritual ailments of Western Civilization. They are thus influenced or inspired by figures like Rene Guenon, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Wolfgang Smith, Jacques Maritain, Etienne Gilson, Arbogast Schmitt, Lloyd Gerson, and so on.

[3] Spiker, Things, 3.

[4] Spiker, Things, 2.

[5] Spiker, Things, 2.

[6] Spiker, Things, 98.

[7] Spiker is often found asking, ‘Where’ are they?’ cf. Things, 12, 79, 92, 97-99.

[8] Spiker, Things, 92-99.

[9] Whether we can even speak of such a thing as the ‘identity’ of nafs al-amr is a point I will address shortly.

[10] Spiker, Things, 189.

[11] Spiker, Things, 1.

[12] Spiker, Things, 85-6.

[13] Spiker, Things, 97.

[14] Spiker, Things, 93.

[15] Spiker, Things, 93. Spiker is wrong in his identification of the kind of logical fallacy involved, but correct in considering it to be a mistake.

[16] Cf. Taşköprüzade, al-Shuhūd al-ʿaynī fī mabāhith al-wujūd al-dhihnī, ed. M. Zahid Gül, (Cologne: Al-Kamel Verlag, 2009), pp. 34-36.

[17] For his deliberately vague suggestions that ‘extramental reality’ is equivalent to ‘sensible particulars,’ see for example: viii, 1, 3, 7, 12, 14, 19, 20, 21, 30, 45, 62, 63, 81, 97, 109, 166. On page 63 he writes “Such [abstract] entities must enjoy some form of independent being other than khārijī existence, which is ordinarily time and space bound…’ Which he finally follows up with this rather strange footnote #123 (p.191): ‘Although not necessarily, because on the standard Avicennan and late-kalām account, God is the khārijī being (‘khārijī,’ because He is individuated) whence all other beings derive their being, although He transcends time and space.’ Following his statement on page 109, he acknowledges the same in footnote 35 on page 207: ‘Effectively although not strictly, because as previously noted, God also exists ‘fī al-khārij’ according to this immanentist ontology.’ The question that arises is, if it is simply false to make the equivalence between extramental existence and sensible existence, why does Spiker effectively hide this in the bulk of the book, only alluding to it vaguely in the footnotes, especially when this counterexample undermines his entire thesis? Furthermore, why does he seem to think that this view is unique to the ‘Avicennan’ and ‘late-kalām’ accounts? The classical schools of kalām also acknowledge, surely, that God is an extramental, non-physical being. But again, Spiker is so wound up in his own mythology about ‘Avicennan kalām’ he cannot fathom uttering a single positive statement about the classical tradition.

[18] Spiker, Things, 126. Spiker also believes that the world is a branch of the Muhammadan reality and created from its light.

[19] E.g., Jens Halfwassen.

[20] Spiker, Things, 2.

[21] ‘Higher’ is Spiker’s preferred adjective for post-classical “Avicennan” kalām cf. Things, 18, 26, 55, 194. The opposite of ‘higher,’ I presume, is the ‘lower’ kalām of the Ashʿarī school. Somehow, despite the rather transparent derision he has towards Ashʿarī kalām, Spiker insists that he ‘agrees’ with it on the basis that it is not even a school of kalām, but merely ‘creed’.

[22] E.g., Spiker, Things, 157-158.

[23] Spiker, Things, 194-5.

[24] But I have them.

[25] E.g, Spiker, Things, 194-5; 217-8.

[26] Spiker, Things, 194-5.

[27] For example, his treatment of Gelenbevī’s treatise on God’s knowledge of non-existent objects (p.79 of Things, compare with Gelenbevi), which is a treatise against the Peripatetic view and in defense of the classical kalām view of God’s knowledge, he presents Gelenbevī as though he is offering a defense of Spiker’s view. He also misattributes a text to al-Jurjānī; misrepresents al-Fakhr al-Razi as a Platonist; in addition to attributing a treatise to Gelenbevi despite there being no evidence that the text is actually his. All of this is detailed in the Arabic review.