The following is an excerpt of a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner (Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture), as part of The Agriculture Course: Lecture 6, Koberwitz Palace, Koberwitz, Silesia (now Kobierzyce, Poland), June 14th, 1924. There were a total of 8 lectures on agriculture given by Steiner at the time, and should you be interested, you can read them one by one, on-line.
…. you must learn to see into the workings of Nature in all her different domains. Then you will really take the processes of growth in hand. (We shall afterwards see the same for animal growth – animal normalities and abnormalities). To get the growth-processes in hand – that is the really important thing. To experiment at random in these matters, as is done today, is no real science. The mere jotting-down of isolated notes and facts – that is no science.
Real science only arises when you begin to control the working forces. But the living plants and animals – even the parasites in the plants – can never be understood by themselves. What I said in our first lesson when I referred to the magnet-needle is only too true. Anyone who thought of the magnet-needle alone – anyone who looked in the magnet-needle itself for the causes of its always turning northward – would be talking nonsense. We do not do so; on the contrary, we take the whole Earth and assign to it a magnetic North Pole and a magnetic South. The whole Earth must be included in our explanation.
Just as we draw in the whole Earth to understand the properties of the magnet-needle, so, when we come to the living plants, we must not merely look at the plant or animal or human world; we must summon all the Universe into our counsels! Life always proceeds from the entire Universe – not only out of what the Earth provides. Nature is a great totality; forces are working from everywhere. He alone can understand Nature who has an open sense for the manifest working of her forces.
What does science do nowadays? It takes a little plate and lays a preparation on it, carefully separates it off and peers into it, shutting off an every side whatever might be working into it. We call it a “microscope”. It is the very opposite of what we should do to gain a relationship to the wide spaces. No longer content to shut ourselves off in a room, we shut ourselves off in this microscope tube from all the glory of the world. Nothing must now remain but what we focus in our field of vision.
By and by it has come to this: scientists always have recourse, more or less, to their microscope. We, however, must find our way out again into the macrocosm. Then we shall once more begin to understand Nature – and other things too.