This study proposes an Idealist epistemology on the basis of a streamlined and heavily modified German Idealism. With a focus on Second Empire material modernity, the underlying research question is rather simple: how is knowledge created in material modernity? While the philosophical foundation is grounded in the work of Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, this study branches out and bridges the gap between philosophy and cultural studies by including the works of other canonical thinkers such as, for example, Walter Benjamin, Henri Bergson, Henri Lefebvre, and Georg Simmel with the aim of making German Idealist epistemology not merely more relevant in the context of material modernity, but also applicable as a methodology for cultural criticism. Addressing the conceptual challenges of this theoretico-philosophical development and application represents a large portion of this study’s original contribution to the knowledge pool. Using my theoretico-philosophical model as a methodology for cultural criticism, a second, but in no way secondary research question is this: how does the creation of knowledge in material modernity affect human existence? In order to find an answer, this study proposes to read Second Empire material modernity through the lens of epistemological concerns. In this context, the study revolves around the work of Charles Baudelaire, who, in his often emphasised function as the first poet of modernity, serves as a cultural-critical gateway. Constructing innovative understandings of the Baudelairean oeuvre in a theorised framework will allow for a clear demonstration of how the creation of knowledge in material modernity filters into the aesthetic representation of modern human existence as well as into the formation of modern society, next to aesthetics, as yet another mode of representation. By focusing on the work of Baudelaire and by enlisting the help of the canonical nineteenth-century sociologists Karl Mannheim, Max Weber, and Émile Durkheim, this study will conclude twofold: firstly, that the specific socio-cultural and socio-economic conditions of material modernity eventually produce an epistemological darkness tainting all of modern human existence; and, secondly, that this epistemological darkness ultimately leads to fatalism as a form of existential, socio-collective determinism in the guise of a materialist teleology.