Being able to understand Carpers four fundamental ways of knowing makes it possible for nurses to increase their knowledge (Heath, 1998). To be able to gain knowledge learning must be done. Gardner introduced multiple intelligences that are used today for learning and teaching (Zander). For nurses to be able to practice, they need knowledge, which is gained by learning (Berragan, 1998).
In 1978, Carper introduced four ways of knowing, which have since been used to structure nursing education and to evaluate nursing practice (Zander), In order for nurses to be able to practice they need knowledge and have an understanding of relationships (Berragan, 1998). The knowledge comes from theory which is the ways of knowing. The ways of knowing are empirics, ethics, esthetics, and personal (Fawcett, Watson, Neuman, Hinton Walker, Fitzpatrick, 2001). All of which are required for moral, humane, and personalized nursing practice (Fawcett et al 2001).
Empirical knowledge is the science of nursing (Fawcett et al 2001). It is concerned with the ‘objective, abstract, and general knowledge that is experimented with and verified through repeated testing over a period of time’ (Zander). Empirics was formed to be the objective, abstract, general knowledge that is arranged into the theories, models, and principles that govern nursing (Zander). The second way of knowing is ethical knowledge which is the moral component (Fawcett). It has been described by Carper as being ‘concerned with choosing, justifying, and judging actions involving moral duty, rights and obligations’ (Zander). Decisions that need to be made using ethical knowledge occurs in a concrete situation, meaning the decisions that are made are based on morals (Fawcett et al 2001). It can be said that in every decision we make there are ethical and moral implications therefore using this in everyday life (Berragan, 1998).
Carper described the third way of knowing, esthetical knowing, as the art of nursing...
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