Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1816433
 


 



Universal Suffering and the Ultimate Task of Law


Louis E. Wolcher


University of Washington School of Law

2006

Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, Vol. 24, No. 2, 2006

Abstract:     
Justice requires the force of law (Pascal). Law, in turn, passes itself off as a benign, legitimate, and rational instrument for securing people their rights, including their fundamental human rights. This Panglossian image of law is challenged by Walter Benjamin and Emmanuel Levinas, both of whom rightly point out law's partiality, its malleability, and most of all its violent methods. Taking their thought as its starting point, this essay attempts to go beyond the conception of law as violence. Employing an existentialistic conception of time, it concludes that legal violence is epiphenomenal: universal suffering, not violence, is the root of both law and justice. Although law's ultimate task is to respond to and divide this suffering, the very event of dividing it produces still more suffering. The essay draws out the tragic implications of these conclusions for anyone who yearns for justice and human rights on the basis of law.

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Date posted: April 23, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Wolcher, Louis E., Universal Suffering and the Ultimate Task of Law (2006). Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, Vol. 24, No. 2, 2006. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1816433

Contact Information

Louis E. Wolcher (Contact Author)
University of Washington School of Law ( email )
William H. Gates Hall
Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98105-3020
United States

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