The juridical justification of legalised human suffering is linked to the proposition that

legal norms ‘mean’ something in advance of their application, and that this meaning

– this stable content – is the true and proper ground of legal violence. Cicero’s claim

(1999, 157) that ‘a magistrate is a law that speaks, and a law is a silent magistrate’,

naïvely interprets the legal order in a way that is with us still, notwithstanding the

claim’s obvious falsity as a literal statement of fact. According to legal tradition,

meaning consists in the ‘contents’ of a legal norm as applied in this or that concrete

situation. These contents, in turn, are accessible to reason (whether historicised or

conceived of as ‘natural’) by means of what Descartes calls the ‘inborn light’ (lumen ingenitum) of the intellect (see Heidegger 2005, 167).