"The Creation of the World or Globalization" is a deconstructive approach to metaphysics, cosmology, and capitalism divided up into three sections/essays and one "Compliments" section. The title of the book is a challenge to think in terms of world-forming (mondialisation, tellingly difficult to translate from French) as an authentic, open experience in opposition to the essentialism and closure attempted by "globalization" theory and ideology. These two processes - world-forming and globalization - cannot co-exist, and Nancy delves into the history of monotheism and rationalism to illustrate this.
In "Urbi et Orbi" ("City and Globe"), Nancy explains the phenomenological concept of 'world' and why present-day capitalist globalization makes the world uninhabitable. For Nancy, the 'world' amounts to all the relations of meaning and significance, somewhere between the finite and infinite, and which is therefore impossible to fully represent in a fully transparent 'world picture.' Whereas in religion and metaphysics, the world previously depended on a transcendent, external subject - God - this subject gradually merged with the world, thus removing all prior or external agency; the world comes to act as its own subject, rather than merely an object known to God; metaphysics and science come to govern what exists, but even these external categories and theories are shown to be from the world, i.e., immanent. For Nancy, globalization proliferates the 'un-world' in the objective manipulation and expansion of the globe through the never-ending process of capital accumulation and reinvestment (e.g., design of urban architecture and attempts to control space). This embodies the "bad infinite" in that its' principles can never be actualized or enjoyed by those who exist as "singularities": capital's realization is continually deferred through profit mechanisms, which deny creative self-expression (the "good infinite," or Marx's "free labour"). Nancy argues that any decisive break with this anti-world of globalization must include a decisive judgement between the good and bad infinites. What this implies politically is that a "worldly" experience was lacking from previous movements for social change and that this ought to take precedence over the anti-globalization movement's central claim that "another world is possible." Enjoyment, for Nancy, is the defining feature of a good world, since like the subjective world, it does not require justification and has no purpose other than itself: it would be able to replace the exchange value of the world market with the "un-evaluable" meaning of dignity. The inherent "without-reason" of the world (intrinsic value) is the unconscious thought of Western philosophy, and possibly the only one that cannot be subsumed wholly by capitalism, in Nancy's view.
In "Of Creation," Nancy examines the meaning behind the concept of 'creation' very closely, comparing it to similar concepts such as 'production' (heavily used in Marxist critiques of globalization) and claiming that to come into the world is to come from nothing and go toward no goal or purpose. In the act of creation, God (or the God of onto-theology) 'gave' the world to humanity as something whose creation depended on our active involvement, rather than being a finished product. Unlike polytheism and early monotheism, where the world was simply given, being is now inherently relational - 'being-with' [Mitsein], or in Nancy's exact terminology, 'being singular plural.' With the withdrawal of the God of foundations and ends (the first/last judgement serves this purpose explicitly), philosophy's task, determined by Kant as 'reflective judgement,' is to invent or create, rather than to construct universal truths. It must create principles that are "equal for all although irreducible and unsubstitutable from one to the other...the equality of persons in the incommensurability of singularities" (61). In fact, the substance of creation (infinity, nothingness, ex nihilo) is 'dispersed' and reveals itself finitely in social activity, since between the bounds of each connected singularity, nothingness is present. Human beings are thus the 'partner' or agency through which the world questions itself regarding its creation: we "put into play" the world through our history, technology, art, and existence, which is an immanent rather than transcendental necessity (66). Nothing is lacking in the world, nothing comes from outside of it to give it meaning, since it is the totality of meaning. According to Nancy, the statement 'the world is' can only ever be used transitively, in its verb form (69). Discourse on making and production shifts to discourse on historical being: the fact that things simply are - yet transitively and finitely - fractures all nihilism. Just as a zero-point on an integer scale gives meaning and value to all of the points on that scale, "it is the nihil that disposes itself as the space of all presence" (71). Since creation ex-nihilo is the source of existence, and this creation always implies relation, therefore, being-with (others and the world) is more primordial than the abstracted Cartesian subject (or God as subject), and is part and parcel to "world-forming."
In the next section, "Creation as Denaturation: Metaphysical Technology," Nancy turns to the complex relationship of the philosophical tradition to nature in its definition of itself. According to Nancy, philosophy cannot explain its own origin and principles without first negating myth (as in Plato's Republic) and defining the boundary between 'nature' (pre-philosophy) and 'non-nature.' The break with nature is associated with the development of technology and technique, which philosophy itself tries to order as a meta-technique, or meta-physic. Philosophy is trapped between necessity and contingency: either it depended on nothing for its creation - making it completely arbitrary - or the purpose activity came from something prior to it - making it dependent on something else, e.g., art, science, politics, and love. With its autonomy ruptured (self-deconstructed, ontologically finite), philosophy cannot complete itself in an end or purpose, and Nancy argues we have seen the exhaustion of teleology in history and thinking. Since there cannot be an 'autotelic' movement, it supports the idea that finite being-with (being singular plural) is the universal, albeit incommensurable, value of the good infinite, and that we cannot rely on a static conception of 'the natural' OR of a completed, future 'end-state' in justifying a world we would like to live in.
The book succeeds in casting a fresh light on globalization, while not going into the deep social scientific debates on whether it is historically new, how much impact it has relative to national sovereign states, and who benefits from it. It is no world-systems analysis like that of Immanuel Wallerstein, Samir Amin, or Janet Abu-Lughod, but it nevertheless may be readable for those who have a background in critical theory. He shows how, with a critico-philosophical approach, the 'world' can be destabalized and changed, and the practical value that this might have for movements seeking a better world.