The Individual within the Community

A Conference taking a fresh look at Social Threefolding and its potential to transform the world we live in.

Saturday 17th November and Sunday Morning 18th November, 2018.


The Conference is facilitated by the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain and hosted by the South West Anthroposophical Group at Dartington Great Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EL. It will take place under the auspices of the Social Science Section.

Today we live surrounded by crisis and conflicts that force almost unimaginable changes to the lives of millions of people across the world. The philosopher and social reformer Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) foresaw this situation 100 years ago during the First World War and sought to act as a catalyst for social transformation.

This conference is designed for people within and outside of the Anthroposophical movement who are intrigued by but unfamiliar with Threefolding in society and are interested to understand the contemporary relevance of Rudolf Steiner’s ideas.

The contributors will address contemporary issues through their talks and workshops and share their projects and approaches to land use, education, community initiatives and economics.

The day has been structured to support everyone who attends in exploring their own questions – with time for individual reflection on what they have heard – and also to connect with social threefolding in action through focussed sharing in groups. Opportunities will arise for ideas to be taken forward beyond the conference.

The conference venue Dartington Hall was restored in the 20th century by the Elmhirst family who brought many initiatives to foster new educational and social thinking. Their vision is being actively renewed under new CEO Rhodri Samuel.

For bookings please see here.

Click here to download a copy of our brochure.

Further Details

Last year’s conference aimed at presenting general outlines of Steiner’s ideas since they were unfamiliar to many people. This year we intend to work on them in smaller groups with specific themes and exercises, rather than have a number of power point presentations. The artistic – feeling element as well as dialogue will play a greater role.

Once again we are inviting speakers, presenters and performers who are working in their own daily lives with the theme of renewing and re-enlivening society with new impulses. They include the writer and historian Terry Boardman, Dr James Dyson (anthroposophical doctor), Andrew Scott (Social Science Section). Also Dr Robert Rose (educationalist), Marcus Link (Waldorf School manager), Melanie Taylor & Sebastian Parsons (social threefolding), John Platt (drama teacher) and N.V.P. Franklin (writer), Alicia Carey (Hawkwood College CEO), Gamal Ibrahim (educational therapist) & Judy Bailey (Camphill).

These and other presentations will bring a rich tapestry of ideas and experiences relevant to the turbulent world in which we live. The Saturday evening event will be a gift from the cultural sphere with very talented artists bringing music and eurythmy, to which everyone is most warmly invited. .

William Blake’s picture of Albion on our front cover points to a new theme we are weaving into this year’s conference. Albion is the true name of Britain, and Blake’s vision opens up vistas of development for this nation far beyond the “satanic mills” that are overproducing all the goods filling our materialistic consumer society. N.V.P Franklin will be unfolding this vision and its significance for us today.

Thoughts by Terry Boardman the Facilitator

Terry was born in 1952, Manchester University, BA in history. Diploma in Eurythmy. Worked in Japan for 10 years. Translator (German and Japanese), writer for two magazines (quarterly “New View” and monthly “The Present Age”, also co-editor; author of two books) and lecturer in various countries (history and current affairs). Anthroposophical Society member since 1983. Terry’s workshop is outlined below.

Am I a threefold human being?

Without a living awareness of oneself as a threefold human being, attempts to realise threefolding in society will fail. Threefolding has to be understood from inside, as living experience.What is my awareness of my own thinking, feeling, willing? What are their characteristics? Spirit, soul, body – are these terms real for me?

What do I recall – from my own memory or from that of others of what happened in me, to me, around me, in the first three or four years of my life? For there is the ultimate human archetype of threefolding. We shall explore these questions through the very simple but profound experience of walking consciously through space, alone and together.

My idea of threefolding

Threefolding needs to be seen in its historical context in order to understand why it is right for our me. We have a socio-economic system in the West that in its fundamentals is 400 years old. It reflects the dominance of the economic sphere over politics and culture, a dominance that has grown steadily since c.1600 and has become increasingly problematic and unhealthy. Three alternative “solutions” to the social question became manifest in the 20th century: Anglo-American capitalism, communism and fascism – an unholy trinity.

These three respectively represent perversions of personal liberty, class equality, and fraternity. Over the past 100 years these three systems have proved themselves destructive of social and ecological well-being.

Threefolding, by contrast, is based neither on animal behaviour (survival of the fittest) nor on abstract intellectual constructs (“scientific socialism”) but on the understanding of the threefold reality of the human and social organisms: body, soul and spirit; willing, feeling, thinking; economic life, political/legal life, ‘cultural’ life i.e. spiritual/artistic/scientific life. Our current modern social problems have stemmed from the fact that they are based either on animal models or on abstract intellectual models, neither of which are essentially truly human. But this requires understanding by each individual; it cannot be imposed from on high as a ‘programme’. The three spheres of social life need to be grasped as clearly separate and requiring autonomy before they can be related to each other, their interconnection resembling that of the three physiological systems of the human organism: the nervous system, the circulatory system, the metabolic system, which are also separate but also interrelate. Each one of us has these three physiological systems; each one of us thinks, feels, wills. Each one of us is engaged in cultural, political and economic life. To grasp and comprehend this is an individual act. To realise it is a social act.

History has been moving gradually from unconscious communal life to increasingly conscious individual life. To balance this burgeoning individualism and its necessarily accompanying antipathies, an increasingly conscious social life of sympathy and empathy is needed. Both the individual and the communal elements are rooted in the threefold human and social organisms. New communities can be created on the basis of understanding what we as human beings truly are, individually and socially.