chapter  1
28 Pages

The epistemic fallacy

Our planet is spherical and does not change its shape in response to our shifting beliefs. The fact that in the past many believed it to be flat does not mean it once was flat. Ontological realism recognises, correctly, that reality trumps our epistemic beliefs about reality: the world does not change in order to conform to our beliefs; rather, it is our beliefs that must change in order to conform to the world. The epistemic fallacy forces reality into the straightjacket of our preferred ways of knowing, despite the fact that the primacy of ontology over epistemology requires us to allow reality to shape our epistemic endeavours. The inversion of the proper relationship between the knower and the object of knowledge leads directly to forms of alienation and pathological behaviour, since imagined worlds inevitably clash with the actual world. This is why there is an intellectual, moral and spiritual imperative to pursue truth and truthful living in harmony with the ways things actually are in reality. This chapter narrates a story of the progressive impact of the epistemic fallacy on post-Enlightenment Western thought, speech and action: from the assertion of the sovereignty of consciousness, via epistemic foundationalism and the ensuing displacement of fact from value, to the emergence of a pervasive and hegemonic secular liberal ontology.