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If the five types of knowers identified by Belenky and colleagues (1986) are defined from a nursing perspective, the

following
is what we might find:

1. Silent knowers are nurses who tend to accept the voices of authority and thus learn to be silent. These nurses know their
practice, their teaching, or their administrative practice, but they may not be able to articulate what they know through abstract
thought for theoretical development and may not have the language to express their analysis or interpretation of the
phenomenon. Their work, insights, and wisdom are invisible because they are not represented or because theorists have not
been able to retrieve them for further theoretical development. Could these silent knowers conceptualize their understanding of
phenomena in ways that are more congruent with their propensity to develop theories?
2. Received knowers believe others are capable of producing knowledge that they can follow and reproduce. They believe in
external authorities abilities to generate knowledge, but not in their own or their peers abilities to do the same. These people
depend on and value the expertise of others. Many nurses have contented themselves with using the works of others, believing
those works to be far superior to anything they themselves could create. Examples are the different theories and paradigms that
we have bought into and used for years without questioning.
3. Subjective knowers depend on their personal experiences. These knowers believe and depend on their own inner voices and
inner feelings. Knowledge to them is personal, private, and subjectively known and intuited, and truth is an intuitive
reactionsomething experienced, not thought out, something felt rather than actively pursued or constructed (Belenky,
Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule, 1986, p. 69). Although these knowers find it difficult to articulate the processes used to arrive
at knowledge, they have the wisdom to look holistically and explain complete situations. Knowledge from nursing practice as
articulated by subjective knowers could inform the discipline of nursing in ways that no other knowledge could. This is the
knowledge that Carper (1978) referred to as personal knowledge and Benner (1984) as expert knowledge.
4. Procedural knowers depend on careful observations and procedures. They are the rationalists among us. These are the
people who communicate procedures, rules, and regulations, and thus may be best suited for developing empirical or procedural
theories.
5. Constructed knowers view all knowledge as contextual, they experience themselves as creators of knowledge and value
both subjective and objective strategies of knowing (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule, 1986, p.15). These knowers
integrate the different ways of knowing and the different voices (including the silent voice). To them, all knowledge is
constructed, and the knower is an intimate part of the known (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule, 1986, p.137). To
subscribe to this view is to accept the never-ending process of knowledge development, to accept that theories are always in
process, to accept that frames of reference are constructed and reconstructed, and to accept that situations, as well as knowledge,
are contextual and subject to different interpretations (Schultz and Meleis, 1988).