For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The Creation of the World, Or, Globalization

by Nancy, Jean-Luc (2007)


Appearing in English for the first time, Jean-Luc Nancy’s 2002 book reflects on globalization and its impact on our being-in-the-world. Developing a contrast in the French language between two terms that are usually synonymous, or that are used interchangeably, namely globalisation (globalization) and mondialisation (world-forming), Nancy undertakes a rethinking of what “world-forming” might mean. At stake in this distinction is for him nothing less than two possible destinies of our humanity, and of our time. On the one hand, with globalization, there is the uniformity produced by a global economical and technological logic leading to the contrary of an inhabitable world, “the un-world” (l’im-monde)—as Nancy refers to it—an un-world that entails social disintegration, misery, and injustice. And, on the other hand, there is the possibility of an authentic world-forming, that is, of a making of the world and of a making sense that Nancy calls a “creation” of the world. Nancy understands such world-forming in terms of an inexhaustible struggle for justice. This book is an important contribution by Nancy to a philosophical reflection on the phenomenon of globalization and a further development on his earlier works on our being-in-common, justice, and a-theological existence.

Key Passage

Absolute value is, in fact, humanity incorporated in the product through work as human work. It is thus humanity producing itself by producing objects (or, I will return to this, creating itself by producing). But what is humanity? What is the world as the product of human beings, and what is the human being insofar as it is in the world and as it work this world? What is the "spiritual richness" of which Marx speaks, which is nothing other than the value or meaning of human labor as human, that is to say, also, "free," but free to the extent that it is to itself its own end and that therefore it is  neither value measured according to its use nor value giving itself as general equivalency (it too is its own end, but abstract and formal. a finality for itself … )? What is a value that is neither finalized nor simply equivalent to itself? What is a "human value" toward which the work refers. or whose trace it bears, without how-ever signifying it and without covering it with a mystical veil? (This question, we note, amounts to asking: What is human value considered at a level beyond the reach of "humanism"?) (p.39)


Tecnology, Nancy, Continental Philosophy, Globalisation, Economics, Mondialisation


The Creation of the World, Nancy Citations

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