What does Renard mean?

Renard is the French word for fox. This project is named after two ideas.

The first of these is the medieval character Reynard who stars as the anti-hero of a series of tales featuring anthropomorphic animals that represent various classes of medieval society. Some of the stories of Reynard were meant to be a political satire: Reynard would use his cunning to deceive the upper class and somehow survive against all odds. Despite all his trickery and vices, he was still depicted as a loveable rogue that would use his brain to win against the brawn of the aristocracy.

The second is based on the essay The Hedgehog and the Fox by Isaiah Berlin. The essay discusses two ways of thinking named after characters from a fable: the way of the Hedgehog which focuses on one big idea and the way of the Fox which focuses on many ideas at once. He uses this to compare various thinkers that worked in one way or the other. Then, more interestingly, he describes Tolstoy as "a fox by nature, but a hedgehog by conviction" showing that these two ideas can exist simultaneously.

In some ways, the two ideas are connected. Some argue that in the past, it was possible to be a Hedgehog and thrive by looking through one lens, but the world has become more complex and interconnected. To be a Fox is to be able to be more eclectic in how you look at ideas. However, being to able to integrate all these together requires the wit and intellectual flexibility of Reynard.

Project Renard is meant to help you embrace this flexibility by by providing tools to be more skillful at handling knowledge.


The Project Renard logo is a picture of the Reynard character which is taken from a Book of Hours from circa 1460. The cropped image is taken from this Wikimedia page and the original full page is at this Wikimedia page.

Picture of a fox (Renard) reading a book

The header image is taken from the border of an illuminated manuscript at the British Library.

Picture of an illuminated manuscript border