Philosophy creates the basis for discovering knowledge, truth and for developing theories. Thus, theorists rely on philosophical constructs as the guiding principles of the thought process that shaped the structure of their theories. However, received view and perceived view are the most dominant philosophical schools of thought that have influenced theoretical discussions in nursing (McEwen & Willis, 2014). Received view is made of rationalism and empiricism and sometime referred to as analytical or positivism, and the thought process is mechanistic with existence of only one reality. The underline belief is that reason is superior to experience as source of knowledge, and its reduction mode to solving problem addresses issues in parts instead as a whole; focuses on the diagnosis and neglects the person’s feelings and the experience of the care giver. Whereas, the perceived view, sometimes referred to as continental orientation or non-positivistic school, comprises of human science and related worldviews of humanism; and the underline belief is that experience is the source of knowledge, and it’s thought process is not mechanistic (Bruce, Rietze, & Lim. 2014; McEwen & Willis, 2014).
Characteristics of nursing is such that adoption of a physiological school is not easily discernible. However, the perceived view is the worldview that encompasses the profession of nursing because its orientation tends to human experience, description, multiple realities, and influence of history in shaping meaning and interpretation (Bruce, Rietze &Lim, 2014). According to Warelow (2012), perceived view shifts nursing theoretical development away from received view’s causative effect to humanism, holistic care, phenomenology, and qualitative research. The perceived view is widely acceptable in nursing because it is more amenable to the humanistic, holistic and patient centered care basis of nursing practice.
In addition, Warelow (2012) posits that nursing embraces perceived view’s approaches of holistic framework, and phenomenological foundation because they take into consideration the perceptions of the clients and those of the nurse/theorist. Another reason why nursing embraced the perceived view is that, continued reliance on received view has stunted theoretical development in nursing (Warelow, 2012; Bruce, Rietze & Lim, 2014). Perceived view is also embraced because it enables clarity, and ease of application of theory in practice due to fluidity of its philosophical epithets and acceptance of multiple realities.
The effect of perceived view is seen in the works of contemporary theorists as most are not only influenced by history, earlier theorist claims or ideas, events of their time, but also by experiences garnered in nursing practice and the need to promote the caring concept and knowledge acquisition (Warelow, 2012). Hence, nursing is moving away from the positivist views of Florence Nightingale’s era to non-positivist views by adopting a more humanistic science. Most nursing theories are congruent with the perceived views context of philosophy because, nursing theorists based most of their theories on their worldview or personal perspective of how nursing practice should be done. For example, Patricia Berner is one of the theorists that have embraced the perceived view, and this is exemplified in her theory of Caring and Expert Nursing Practice (Warelow, 2012). According to Warelow (2012), Berner believes that theory is required and relevant for nursing and nursing practice. Also, that Berner stresses the importance of experience and practice to knowledge acquisition. Berner made a distinction between the theoretical knowledge of “knowing that” and the practical knowledge of “knowing how.” (Smith ; Parker, 2011. p. 580). In the current disposition, perceived view seems to be what is needed to enable nursing re-position itself as a profession that has the obligation to promote caring with empathy; the essence of nursing and nursing practice.
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