Get access

Caring science and the science of unitary human beings: a trans-theoretical discourse for nursing knowledge development

Authors

  • Jean Watson PhD RN HNC FAAN,

    1. Distinguished Professor of Nursing, Murchinson-Scoville Chair in Caring Science, School of Nursing, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado, USA,
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Marlaine C. Smith RN PhD

    1. Associate Professor of Nursing, Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, School of Nursing, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

Jean Watson , School of Nursing, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 4200 E. Ninth Avenue, Denver, CO 80262, USA. E-mail: jean.watson@uchsc.edu

Abstract

Caring science and the science of unitary human beings: a trans-theoretical discourse for nursing knowledge development

Background. Two dominant discourses in contemporary nursing theory and knowledge development have evolved over the past few decades, in part by unitary science views and caring theories. Rogers' science of unitary human beings (SUHB) represents the unitary directions in nursing. Caring theories and related caring science (CS) scholarship represent the other. These two contemporary initiatives have generated two parallel, often controversial, seemingly separate and unrelated, trees of knowledge for nursing science.

Aim. This paper explores the evolution of CS and its intersection with SUHB that have emerged in contemporary nursing literature. We present a case for integration, convergence, and creative synthesis of CS with SUHB. A trans-theoretical, trans-disciplinary context emerges, allowing nursing to sustain its caring ethic and ontology, within a unitary science.

Methods. The authors critique and review the seminal, critical issues that have separated contemporary knowledge developments in CS and SUHB. Foundational issues of CS, and Watson's theory of transpersonal caring science (TCS), as a specific exemplar, are analysed, alongside parallel themes in SUHB. By examining hidden ethical–ontological and paradigmatic commonalities, trans-theoretical themes and connections are explored and revealed between TCS and SUHB.

Conclusions. Through a creative synthesis of TCS and SUHB we explicate a distinct unitary view of human with a relational caring ontology and ethic that informs nursing as well as other sciences. The result: is a trans-theoretical, trans-disciplinary view for nursing knowledge development. Nursing's history has been to examine theoretical differences rather than commonalities. This trans-theoretical position moves nursing toward theoretical integration and creative synthesis, vs. separation, away from the `Balkanization' of different theories. This initiative still maintains the integrity of different theories, while facilitating and inviting a new discourse for nursing science. The result: Unitary Caring Science that evokes both science and spirit.

”…While from the bounded level of our mind Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind; But more advanced, behold with strange surprise New distant scenes of endless science rise!„
Alexander Pope

Ancillary