Every civilization has a theory about what man knows and how he knows it. The theory of a particular civilization will influence every area of human thought and action. Such fields as science, politics, economics, sociology, psychology, education, religion, and popular morality will be directly affected. Fields like art, music, poetry, and literature will be deeply, although indirectly, influenced, as well.
Theories about how man knows are found in a branch of metaphysics that philosophers callepistemology. Epistemology is a Greek compound word meaning the study of knowledge.
The intellectual leaders of the West took a sharp turn in the wrong direction in epistemology during the period 1750-1800, as a result of disillusionment with rationalism without understanding the fallacies of the rationalist philosophers. Empirical philosophy was offered as a substitute for rationalism, which had equally serious fallacies.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) harmonized the two kinds of philosophy and temporarily curbed some of the fallacies. However, partly due Kant’s critique of metaphysics, the study of epistemology fell out of favor, and men lost their ability to detect epistemological errors. The dual errors of rationalism and empiricism have been steadily increasing in intensity since 1800.
After 1800, the general culture began to show the effects of this change in thought. The unraveling of Western culture in the twentieth century is in no small measure the cumulative effect of two centuries of bad epistemology.
Let us consider natural epistemology, or how every man thinks if they have not been corrupted with false epistemology, so that we can better understand the errors of Modernism.