In this article, the author, relying on the Umberto Eco‘s book, ―Kant and the Platypus. Essays on Language and Cognition‖, considers the question of a change in cognitive models that took place in New European culture, that determined the specifics of the modern project and that is most clearly articulated in the epistemological system of I. Kant, aimed at criticizing metaphysics. The metaphysical model of cognition assumes the existence of an initial schematism in which cognition corresponds to being and is formed through reminder. The new model involves the constructing of schemes for empirical experience and thereby provides the opportunity to gain new experience and new knowledge, which serves as the basis for the development of empirical science. At the same time, this cognitive breakthrough turns out to be paid for by the loss of faith in the stability of the foundations of being and, in general, by what, using M. Heidegger‘s term, can be called ―nihilism‖. The experience of the destruction of metaphysics, which clears the way for creativity and learning new things, can also be called traumatic experience. However, as Eco shows, in Critique of Pure Reason, Kant does not formulate those principles that would enable us to systematize empirical knowledge, distinguish and classify everyday things, and also include in the cognitive system such an entity as a platypus, which was new to XVIII century Europeans. Nevertheless, these principles can be found in Critique of Judgment. The aesthetic judgment turns out to be basic for empirical cognition and for the development of science, despite the fact that it is based on a sense of pleasure and that concordance of nature according to empirical laws can be called a ―happy accident‖ (Kant). An analysis of the aesthetic judgment is able to clarify for us the foundations of the breakthrough that produces the new European principle of cognition in recognizing and systematizing new facts. The recognition of aesthetics as the main area of opposition to metaphysics (in the pre-Kantian sense of the word) reveals the traumatism of the event and the formation of the mentioned ―European nihilism‖. In addition, perhaps it is in the field of aesthetics that one should look for ways to overcome this trauma


Empirical knowledge, Modernity, transformation of cultural paradigms, traumatic experience, Eco, Kant, reflective judgment, criticism of metaphysics, European nihilism, aesthetics

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