This refers to the oldish critical school that would like to stick to the Humanist reading of literature in moral and philosophical terms. The classical position about literature till date is that it makes a man cultured and ethical. It also makes him philosophically insightful so that he can understand the subtleties of life and face them with the wisdom gathered. The colonial use of literature teaching in the so-called civilizing project is founded on this humanist perception of literature.
Traditional criticism would like to reflect upon the way a literary text deals with ethical issues of human behaviour, the moral question also in its social angularities. It also explores the philosophical function of literature i.e. how it looks at the human condition, questions of mortality, psychic and social processes, the human temperament and so on. Important critics in this tradition will be Bradley, the Shakespeare-stalwart, F.R.Leavis, the Marxists critics--Raymond Williams and so on.