Introduction: Hermeneutics, Humanities Studies, and Literature Classics

In reading literature masterpieces and classics, not only are texts and cultural traditions understood, but also insights into humanity and human existence acquired and known. Every progress in human civilization is made possible by the elevation of the human soul. And every elevation of the human soul is the fruit of education, learning and cultivation, of which reading literature masterpieces and classics, like reading scientific, philosophical, and historical classics, is essential. Thus, Victor Hugo claimed: "What humanity requires, is to be fed with light; such nourishment is found in reading ... Humanity reading is humanity knowing." He further claimed, “The true division of humanity is this: the luminous and the dark. To diminish the number of the dark, to increase the number of the light. To learn to read is to rekindle a fire: every syllable sparkles.” All humanities studies and liberal art education aim at, to borrow a Socrates’s metaphor, turning the eyes of the soul around and upward. They aim at the improvement, refinement, and elevation of the human soul. They can be of various forms and with different methods. Reading literary masterpieces and classics is one of the ways. Literature masterpieces and classics provide the phenomenological account, hermeneutical interpretation, and critical philosophizing of humanity, effectively and profoundly illustrating what humanity is, as in its substance, function, and existence, and so on. They proffer a profound form of enquiry in which humanity is seen in itself from human the existence and struggle. They provide abundant, profound, and immense resources to turning the eyes of human souls upward.


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