Stage 5 - Paradoxical-Conjunctive Stage

The “conjunctive faith” (Coyle, 2011) reflects the Piagetian development of logical thought and gives way to relational and contextual reasoning (Hughes, 1997). This stage usually develops in midlife or beyond, if at all (Fowler, 1987). In the life of Paulo Coelho, the transition towards conjunctive faith already started during his forties (1987-1996), but grew in his fifties (1997-2006) and sixties (2007-2016).

The Forties (1987-1996)

The transition to conjunctive faith (Coyle, 2011) started with “By the river Piedro I sat down and wept” (1994) and “The fifth mountain” (1995), with which Coelho aimed at unifying individual and societal contradictions and paradoxes. However, his truth is not yet viewed as multiple - it is rather seen as one-dimensional.

In “The fifth mountain” (Coelho, 1998a), the concept of monotheism and the development towards this concept were described and emphasised as true and right. This book did not yet include the balancing of the different perspectives and the acceptance of multi-layered concepts (Fowler, 1981). However, it reflected Coelho’s individuative-reflexive state of mind: He had developed a deep interest in various cultural and religious traditions and integrated these into his faith philosophy and his spiritual narrations, books and stories, as is usual for Stage 5, the paradoxical- conjunctive stage (Straughn, 2010). Reflection on these various historical, cultural and religious aspects in books and writings is interpreted as an intrapersonal opening to the multi-layered insights of Coelho into various traditions and as a transitional step towards Stage 5.

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