Intuitions based on perception

Intuitions based on perception

28 January 2024 Jean-Michel Florin 2315 views

The project ‘Active perception as the basis for free actions in agriculture’ seeks to create a foundation for responsible actions.


The current climate chaos, along with various economic and social uncertainties, is making the work of farmers ever more challenging. Relying on tried-and-tested methods is becoming increasingly difficult. The weather, for instance, is so changeable that it is difficult to know which crops will thrive. How can farmers develop their perception of the condition of the farm, the soil, the plants and the animals so that they can make the right decisions despite these uncertainties?

Currently, we see a trend towards ‘smart agriculture’, which works with data monitoring and remote-controlled decisions based on algorithms. Its stated goal is to work more accurately and cleanly. What it means, however, is that we are increasingly controlled by machines. We lose our sovereignty and responsibility for the consequences of our actions. Biodynamic agriculture, although it can use data monitoring, seeks to create a balance by training people to become more perceptive and, as a consequence, act more responsibly. It also promotes individualized measures. This means that farmers are encouraged to observe their farms more intensively so that they can realize their potential.

In the Agriculture Course (GA 327), Rudolf Steiner points at something that many successful biodynamic farmers are doing more or less consciously. He says, ‘Let’s take a farmer who will not be considered learned by a scholar; the farmer walks over his field. The scholar may say that the farmer is stupid, but that is not true, for the simple reason that the farmer meditates. […] There is a lot that the farmer meditates in long winter nights. And he acquires something like spiritual knowledge. He just can't put it into words afterwards. But it is suddenly there. You walk through the fields, and suddenly it's there ... These are the things you need to build on.’ (GA 327, 11 June 1924)

Inner perception of the farm

This is precisely what we are trying to do in our research project. As part of a preliminary project on ‘Agricultural Individuality’ we visited several farmers and carried out in-depth interviews with them, based on the method of qualitative social research. This led to initial, very interesting insights: for instance that every farmer has their own approach, a kind of ‘door’ to an inner perception of the farm that may then lead to ‘intuitions’ or to important decisions. This holistic perception often occurs during rhythmic activities (such as milking or walking over the fields) or in a special moment during the day. Two examples can illustrate this: ‘I may have to decide where the goats will graze next. The decision comes up as I am working with the herd. I get a sense of the whole. I get a presentiment of the future: how the plants will grow in the fields.’ (EF)

‘Between Christmas and the New Year the connection with the land is particularly strong. If I walk across my land then, I get the right inspiration for the coming year. The earthly location tells me what it needs and what needs to be done.’ (MH)

Concrete perceptions

We would like to extend this pilot study by certain topics (such as perception of soil, plants, animals) and process the results so that they can provide concrete inspirations for farmers, advisors and trainers. Current and future farmers can then learn how the concrete perception of their farm can help them to develop free and responsible ‘intuitions’ for important decisions they have to make.


Donations Section for Agriculture/Research/Projects

100 Years School of Spiritual Science

During the Christmas Conference of 1923/1924 the School of Spiritual Science was also inaugurated. In preparation for the centenary of the conference the Goetheanum Leadership documented current research plans of the School in a brochure entitled ‘Insights’. Some of the projects are presented in Anthroposophy Worldwide, starting with projects on the training of perception
Sebastian Jüngel