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What is the ultimate task of law? This deceptively simple question guides this volume towards a radically original philosophical interpretation of law and justice. Weaving together the philosophical, jurisprudential and ethical problems suggested by five general terms – thinking, human suffering, legal meaning, time and tragedy – the book places the idea of law's ultimate task in the context of what actually happens when people seek to do justice and enforce legal rights in a world that is inflected by the desperation and suffering of the many. It traces the rule of law all the way down to its most fundamental level: the existence of universal human suffering and how it is that law-doers inflict or tolerate that suffering.