Issues of (in)compatibility between the worldview and research rules of the Science of Unitary Human Beings: an invitation to dialogue.
This paper offers an invitation to dialogue about the degree to which the research rules associated with the Science of Unitary Human Beings are compatible with the worldview that is reflected by the content of the Science of Unitary Human Beings, that is, the simultaneous action worldview.
Scientific knowledge, in the form of conceptual models and theories, is developed by means of creative intellectual leaps and innovative empirical research. Each conceptual model and theory rests on certain philosophical claims that constitute a particular worldview. Furthermore, each conceptual model and theory is developed by following certain rules for research that are, or should be, compatible with the underlying worldview. The purpose of this paper is to issue an invitation to dialogue about the degree to which the research rules associated with the Science of Unitary Human Beings are compatible with the worldview that is reflected in the content of the Science of Unitary Human Beings.
Overview of the Science of Unitary Human Beings
The Science of Unitary Human Beings is concerned with "people and their worlds in a pandimensional universe" (Rogers, 1992, p. 29). More specifically, the Key Words Science of Unitary Human Beings, philosophy, research methods Science of Unitary Human Beings is concerned with "the study of unitary, irreducible human beings and their respective environments" (p. 148). Elaborating, Rogers (1992) stated.
The uniqueness of nursing, like that of other sciences, lies in the phenomenon central to its focus. For nurses, that focus consists of a long-established concern with people and the world they live in. It is the natural forerunner of an organized, abstract system encompassing people and their environments. The irreducible nature of individuals is different from the sum of their parts. Furthermore, the integrality of people and their environments coordinates with a pandimensional universe of open systems, points to a new paradigm, and initiates the identity of nursing as a science. (p. 28)
Rogers (1992) claimed that a new worldview, "compatible with the most progressive knowledge available ... has be come a necessary prelude to studying human health and to determining modalities for its promotion both on this planet and in outer space" (p. 27-28). The Science of Unitary Human Beings is rooted in this new worldview, which has been labeled the simultaneous action worldview (Fawcett, 1993, 1995).
Characteristics of the Simultaneous Action WorldView
Fawcett (1993, 1995) offered the simultaneous action worldview as a parsimonious integration of the elements of the organismic (Reese & Overton, 1970), simultaneity (Parse, 1987), change (Hall, 1981), and unitary-transformative (Newman, 1992) worldviews. The metaphor for the simultaneous action worldview is the unitary human being, who is regarded as a holistic, self-organized field. The human being is more than and different from the sum of parts and is recognized through pattern manifestations. The person-environment interchange is a mutual, rhythmical process. Changes in pattern manifestations occur continuously albeit unpredictably as the human being evolves. Although the pattern manifestations are sometimes organized and sometimes disorganized, change is ultimately in the direction of increasing complexity. Knowledge development emphasizes personal becoming through recognition of pattern manifestations. The phenomena of interest are, therefore, the person's inner experiences, feelings, values, thoughts, and choices.
Simultaneous Action and the Science of Unitary Human Beings
In keeping with the simultaneous action worldview, the Science of Unitary Human Beings clearly reflects a holistic view of the person and environment. Indeed, Rogers (1990) maintained, "My own work focuses on developing a holistic world view by proposing a science of unitary, irreducible beings that is coordinate with a world view that includes outer space.... A holistically oriented space-age paradigm is the substance of nursing's science of unitary, irreducible human beings" (pp. 105-107). In fact, the person and the environment are clearly conceptualized as irreducible, indivisible wholes within a pandimensional universe.
Although the Science of Unitary Human Beings reflects a holistic view of the world, Rogers (1992) usually avoided using the term holistic because of its ambiguous and varied meanings. She pointed out, "The use of the term unitary human beings is not to be confused with current popular usage of the term holistic, generally signifying a summation of parts, whether few or many. The unitary nature of environment is equally irreducible. The concept of field provides a means of perceiving people and their respective environments as irreducible wholes" (p. 29).
Also in keeping with the simultaneous action worldview, the human energy field is regarded as an active organism who is integral with the environmental energy field. Rogers (1992) stated, "People's capacity to participate knowingly in the process of change is postulated" (p. 28).
Moreover, human and environmental energy fields change continuously. Change is, therefore, regarded as natural and desirable. In fact, "Change just is" (Rogers, Doyle, Racolin, & Walsh, 1990, p. 377). Furthermore, change is creative and innovative, always in the direction of increasing diversity. In particular, "Change is continuous, relative, and innovative. The increasing diversity of field patterning characterizes this process of change. Individual differences serve only to point up the significance of this relative diversity" (Rogers, 1992, p. 31).
Further support for classifying the Science of Unitary Human Beings within the simultaneous action worldview comes from Rogers' (1970) explicit rejection of reductionism, with its focus on parts. She stated, "Reductionism, representative of an atomistic worldview in which complex things are built up of simple elements, is contrary to a perception of wholeness" (p. 87). She also stated that her conceptual system "is humanistic, not mechanistic. Moreover, this is an optimistic model though not a utopian one" (Rogers, 1987b, p. 141). Rogers (1986) also explicitly rejected mechanistic causality, stating, "In a universe of open systems, causality is not an option. Acausality had come in with quantum theory.... Causality is invalid" (p. 5). Furthermore, Rogers (1970) rejected a mechanistic view of the person as reacting to environmental stimuli. She commented, "The all-too-common perception of man[sic] predominantly subjected to multiple negative environmental influences with pathological outcomes denies man's unity with nature and his evolutionary becoming" (p. 85).
Rules for Research
Rules for empirical research associated with any conceptual model specify the phenomena that are to be studied; the distinctive nature of the problems to be studied and the purposes to be fulfilled by the research; the subjects who are to provide the data and the settings in which data are to be gathered; the research designs, instruments, and procedures that are to be employed; the methods to be employed in reducing and analyzing the data; and the nature of contributions that the research will make to the advancement of knowledge (Laudan, 1981; Schlotfeldt, 1975). Although these rules emphasize empirical research, empiricism is not equivalent to logical positivism. In fact, Kahn and Fawcett (1995) argued that empiricism takes many forms, including postpositivistic approaches that account for the social and historical context of the research.
Fawcett (1995) has extrapolated research rules associated with the Science of Unitary Human Beings from the literature, conversations with Martha Rogers, and her interpretation of the evolution of Rogerian Science. Rogers repeatedly emphasized the importance of conducting Science of Unitary Human Beings-based empirical research. For example, she noted, "Science is never finished. It is always open ended" (Rogers, Doyle, Racolin, & Walsh, 1990, p. 380). Rogers (1987x) also noted, "The future of research in nursing is based on a commitment to nursing as a science in its own right. The science of nursing is identified as the science of unitary human beings" (p. 123). Clearly, Rogers believed that empirical research, among other forms of inquiry, is crucial for the continued refinement of the Science of Unitary Human Beings.
According to the Science of Unitary Human Beings, the phenomena to be studied are unitary human beings and their environments. "The study of nursing as a science," Rogers (1990) maintained, "is the study of the phenomena central to nursing: unitary, irreducible, human beings and their environments. It is =t the study of other fields or theories deriving from other fields.... The study of nurses and what they do is not the study of nursing anymore than the study of biologists and what they do is the study of biology" (p. 111).
The problems to be studied within the context of the Science of Unitary Human Beings are the manifestations of human and environmental field patterns. Pattern profiles, which are clusters of related pattern manifestations (Phillips, 1989, 1991), are of special interest. The purpose of Science of Unitary Human Beings-based research is to develop theoretical knowledge about "unitary, irreducible, indivisible human and environmental fields: people and their world" (Rogers, 1992, p. 29).
Given Rogers' emphasis on nursing as a service to all people, wherever they may be, virtually any setting and any person or group would be appropriate for study, with the proviso that both person or group and environment are taken into account. [It is recognized that the proviso may reflect an artificial separation of human and environmental energy fields. The proviso seems necessary, however, until valid and reliable methods of capturing the unitary nature of human and environmental energy fields are developed) Both basic and applied research are needed to continue to develop nursing knowledge. Basic research, according to Rogers (1992), "provides new knowledge" (p. 28). In particular, "the focus and goal of basic research in nursing science ... [is] pattern seeing" (Reeder, 1984, p. 22), or identification and description of pattern manifestations. In contrast, applied research "tests the new knowledge already available" in practical situations (Rogers, 1992, p. 28). Rogers (1987) maintained that "Applied research should replace the use of the phrase 'clinical research.' According to dictionaries the term clinical means 'investigation of a disease in the living subject by observation as distinguished from controlled study, something done at the bedside.' These definitions are inappropriate and inadequate for the scope and purposes of nursing" (p. 122).
Rogers (1992) advocated the use of a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods, including philosophic and descriptive approaches. Reeder (1986) maintained that Husserlian phenomenology is an appropriate approach to Science of Unitary Human Beings-based basic research. Cowling (1986) added existentialism, ecological thinking, dialectical thinking, and historical inquiries, as well as methods that focus on the uniqueness of each person, such as imagery, direct questioning, personal structural analysis, and the Q-sort to the list of appropriate methodologies. Furthermore, case studies and longitudinal research designs that focus on the identification of and changes in human and environmental field pattern manifestations are more appropriate than cross-sectional designs, given Rogers' emphasis on the uniqueness of the unitary human being (Fawcett, 1994).
Cowling (1986) pointed out that although descriptive and correlational designs are consistent with the Science of Unitary Human Beings, strict experimental designs are of "questionable value," given the fact that "the unitary system is a noncausal model of reality" (p. 73). Cowling's (1986) recommendation of correlational designs is supported by Rogers' statements that "There is no causality, but there are relationships" (Rogers, Doyle, Racolin, & Walsh, 1990, p. 380) and "Association does not mean causality" (Rogers, 1992, p. 30).
Rogers (1987x) pointed out that "there are incongruities and contradictions between holistic directions in nursing and the forms of inquiry used by nurses.... There is a critical need for new tools of measurement appropriate to new paradigms" (p. 122). In fact, some instruments have been directly derived from the Science of Unitary Human Beings (Barrett, 1986; Carboni, 1992; Ference, 1986; Johnston, 1993; Leddy, 1995; Paletta, 1990; Wright, 1991).
Data analysis techniques must take the unitary nature of human beings and the integrality of the human and environmental energy fields into account. Cowling (1986) indicated that "multivariate analysis procedures, particularly canonical correlation, can be useful methods for generating a constellation of variables representing human field pattern properties" (p. 73).
The emphasis in the Rogerian conceptual system on the integrality of human and environmental energy fields indicates that research conducted within the context of the Science of Unitary Human Beings will enhance understanding of the continuous mutual process of human and environmental energy fields and manifestations of changes in energy field patterns. Ultimately, Science of Unitary Human Beings-based research will yield "a body of knowledge specific to nursing" (Rogers, 1992, p. 29).
Areas of Incompatibility and Other Issues
The simultaneous action worldview calls for research rules that will facilitate identification of continuously changing, unpredictable manifestations of pattern and rhythmical mutual energy field process. Consequently, although the current research rules for the Science of Unitary Human Beings should not be summarily rejected, the extent to which they are logically compatible with the simultaneous action worldview should be questioned.
For example, Reeder (1984) accurately pointed out that ongoing testing of the Science of Unitary Human Beings "cannot be done through the logical empiricist criterion of meaning, testing the hypodeductive system for consistency, and then testing correspondence to the world (mind/body dualism). But rather, the [conceptual] system can be continuously tested through the manifestation of the integral evidence of human and environmental fields and through the relationships between phenomena, which arise from integral evidence" (p. 22).
A problem arises if the search for relationships, within the context of the Science of Unitary Human Beings, follows a quantitative methodology. More specifically, relationships typically are identified by the use of correlational techniques. However, correlational techniques represent a components-of-variance statistical model, which is a reductionist analytic technique based on the mechanistic assumption that the whole is the sum of parts (Ackoff, 1974; Baltes, Reese, & Nesselroade, 1977). As Fawcett and Downs (1986) pointed out, that assumption is logically inconsistent with the simultaneous action worldview assumption that the whole is different from and greater than the sum of parts.
One might argue that few if any researchers expect to account for 100% of the variance in a phenomenon. Nevertheless, the assumption underlying the components-of-variance statistical model h pas than, enough could be known about a phenomenon, 100% of the variance could be accounted for. Therefore, a research rule that permits correlational procedures--or other inferential statistics--does not seem logically compatible with the simultaneous action worldview. Indeed, Baltes et al. (1977) pointed out that "Within such world views, the analysis of variance does not make sense, and hence it is not reasonable for their adherents to use designs obtained from the analysis-of-variance model" (p. 22).
Consequently, a question should be raised about the compatibility of any rule specifying quantitative designs or quantitative instruments with the simultaneous action worldview. The question arises because quantitative methodologies, including design, instruments, and associated statistical techniques, are ultimately based on the assumption that the sum of the parts equals the whole.
A seemingly simple solution to the incompatibility issue is to use only qualitative methodologies that are based on the assumption of unitary phenomena. That solution, however, raises other questions. For example, how can the efficacy of Science of Unitary Human Beings-based therapeutic modalities, such as imagery, Therapeutic Touch, and visualization, be determined qualitatively? Furthermore, how can differences in the efficacy of various therapeutic modalities be determined qualitatively? Would case studies be sufficient? Or, are questions of efficacy even relevant?
Moreover, how can pattern manifestations, which are unpredictable, even be described? How can nonrepeating rhythmicities be described? Would individual case studies be sufficiently informative for the development of scientific knowledge that ultimately is to be applied in practice? Conclusion
It is hoped that the questions raised here will serve as a starting point for dialogue about the (in)compatibility of the current research rules for the Science of Unitary Human Beings and the simultaneous action worldview. Readers are invited to identify other areas of incompatibility and to propose new research rules--and new research methodologies--for the Science of Unitary Human Beings that will be logically compatible with the simultaneous action worldview.
Received July, 1995
Accepted October, 1995
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Please address all correspondence to:
Dr. Jacqueline Fawcett
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Storrs, CT 06268
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|Publication:||Visions: The Journal of Rogerian Nursing Science|
|Article Type:||Clinical report|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1996|
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