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"A profound essay on the intellectual underpinnings of our civilizational problems. This is a work that should be read by everyone concerned about the state of the world and seeks conceptual resources to help improve it."

Stuart Newman, Ph.D.
Professor of Cell Biology & Anatomy
New York Medical College


In stressful times like these we human beings tend to seek out islands of certainty. We latch onto specific, small things we can do in our daily lives. We yearn for simple solutions or simpler times. We crave normalcy in a world out of balance.  

About the book

Keppel argues that our “practical” habits and ways of thinking are based on science that has become out of date and we must rebuild our minds and our world based on Creative Uncertainty.  After a short history of human history, he embarks on a synthesis of cosmology, evolutionary theory, and philosophy, to tell the story of the emergent “Extended Evolutionary Synthesis” of how creativity happens under uncertainty.

He makes the case that many of our most difficult challenges—climate change, nuclear conflict, political turmoil—have arisen as the result of some fundamental philosophical flaws in our western ethos: manipulation, not nurture; a myth of certainty and control; power and profit. More importantly, Keppel draws on a rich tapestry of scientific, political, and philosophical thinkers to put forth a new mindset that can help us to navigate the uncertainty of our times, creatively. 

A Lifelong Quest

David Keppel began this project forty years ago, when he was still in school.  His father, John Keppel, was a United States Foreign Service Officer and one of the State Department’s most brilliant Kremlinologists, students of the arcane rituals of Soviet power where the lineup of a parade or the detailed wording of an editorial was a clue to brutal power struggles in the Kremlin.

When David was six, instead of going back to Moscow, John became Political Counselor in Rio de Janeiro, where he was one of the American officials backing a right wing military coup d’etat against Brazil’s leftist President Joao Goulart.

This is not a book of pat answers or magic formulas. The Zen saying goes: “Before enlightenment, hewing wood and carrying water; after enlightenment, hewing wood and carrying water.”  What emerges is rather a philosophy, an outlook, that can help us to live with inescapable uncertainties and work together to make them creative, in a time which offers no guarantees.

About David

DAVID KEPPEL is a writer and peace activist.  Born in Rome, Italy, he is the son of a U.S. Foreign Service Officer.  He grew up in Washington, DC, Rio de Janeiro, and New York City.  He was educated at the Phillips Exeter Academy, Winchester College (the English public school) and New College, Oxford.  He received a B.A., M.A. with First Class Honors in English Language and Literature from Oxford.  David was a member of the National Strategy Committee of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign and is author of 89 published letters on peace and disarmament in The New York Times.  He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.    

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