The author distinguishes two attitudes toward the world: (1) the attitude of an action which involves engagement, care, values, and interests; (2) the attitude of a distanced observer (i.e. the theoretical-contemplative one). The paper assumes that the attitude of action precedes historically the attitude of observer. The latter has been born in ancient Greece of classical period due to the Platonic philosophy and the overcoming of magic-mythical thought. Since then, although they have changed and developed, both perspectives have been widely present in European culture and therefore should be considered to be a part of European cultural heritage. It is said that European modernism guarantees a coexistence of both attitudes. A modern European, thus, is able to act intentionally as well as to observe his own action from a distance. Modernism implies also an axiological priority of theoretical perspective (identified with the Kantian ‘universal reason’) over the perspective of action which is not free from prejudice. In comparison with earlier periods of European culture, the theoretical-contemplative perspective of Modernism is defined in terms of perception and sensual experience and their further reinterpretations.