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The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 19, 1999

D. M. Yeager
Pages 145-165

Real Toads in Imaginary Gardens
Impossibility and Perfection in Christian Ethics

The challenge of joining a productive conversation between the human sciences and theological ethics is here given concrete form by a detailed consideration of Erich Neumann's attack on Christian ethics and his proposed alternative. Making the case that Christian ethics, the "old ethic," subverts consciousness, entails an unreliable conception of the psyche, and encumbers the personality with unbearable burdens, Neumann proposes a "new ethic" enlightened by depth psychology's study of the unconscious. Acknowledging that Neumann's critique deserves attention proportional to the truth of the psychological insights that propel it, the author also suggests that Neumann's proposed ethic may not differ from Christian ethics as dramatically as he insists.