The Renaissance Program


What It Meant to Be Human in the Renaissance: Human Potential and Shaping a Self


Held at the British Institute of Florence
The Harold Acton Library • Farragamo Room
Palazzo Lanfredini
Lungarno Guicciardini 9
50125 Florence

Wednesday, November 15, 2023 • 9:30–11:30 AM

Explore the profound connections between the optimism of the Renaissance, ideas of human potential, and the objectives of Renaissance education . . .

What It Meant to Be Human in the Renaissance: Human Potential and Shaping a Self

Every person is born human, and inherent within each of us is a potential that, over time, unfolds and can be actualized.

These ideas of self-development and of living more fully as human beings held great importance for Renaissance humanists. Within their cultural agenda, the humanists sought both to foster the development of more excellent human beings and to build a more vibrant and fulfilling society.

In this keynote address of the 2023 Renaissance Program, philosopher David Fideler examines what developing one’s humanity meant in the Renaissance. The talk also explores the deep-rooted sense of optimism and self-confidence that catalyzed the emergence of the Renaissance and inspired its innovative educational approaches.

Did the Renaissance’s optimistic perspective about human nature ever overreach? Could it serve as a lesson for us today in our “age of diminished expectations”? Lastly, could Renaissance educational philosophies help revitalize contemporary views on education and human potential?

These are just some of the intriguing and relevant questions explored in this well-illustrated lecture, which will include time for questions and discussion.

Thanks to the British Institute of Florence, tea will also be served.

David Fideler

About the Speaker

David Fideler is the founder of the Renaissance Program, editor of the Living Ideas Journal, and he holds a PhD in philosophy and intellectual history. David writes about the ways in which classical and Renaissance ideas can enrich our modern world. A contributor to The New Dictionary of the History of Ideas and numerous other publications, David’s recent book on the Roman philosopher Seneca has been published in sixteen languages.

The lecture will be held in the Farragamo Room of the Harold Acton Library, which seats 70 people.

Lecture space kindly provided by the British Institute of Florence

Please read about the complete five-day course by clicking the green button below: “Creating the Best Possible World: The Energizing Ideas of the Italian Renaissance.”

Use this form to contact us, to submit your questions, or to receive further information about the Renaissance Program.

The Renaissance Program in Florence gratefully acknowledges the help and support of our friends in Florence and around the world who have helped to make our events possible, including the International Studies Institute (ISI Florence), the British Institute of Florence, The Social Hub in Florence, the owners of the Medici Villa in Fiesole, Plato‘s Academy Centre in Athens, the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents program at the University of Amsterdam, the Temenos Academy, and other supporters. Without this support, the Renaissance Program in Florence would not be possible.


Copyright 2023 by the Renaissance Program. All rights reserved.