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Old magic & magical progress/advancement

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by moribund_helix, Feb 3, 2022.

  1. Scarat

    Scarat Fourth Year

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    Are you? These items seem to be unique and non replicated by those wizards. It also seems like they haven't really produced other things of similar quality. For example, it sort of feels like Flamel peaked with the Philosopher's Stone. I think there's enough to hint that these are one-of-a-kind items or that they are not really within the scope of the magical knowledge the person had. Or maybe they are just really difficult to replicate.

    I think I'd go for a less standardized approach to this. Sometimes, the conditions are just right and can't be recreated. Some of these items have a special "status" or something that means another of their kind can't be produced or can't be produced easily (maybe the conditions change with each successive attempt). Maybe certain wizards are tapping into something special to elevate the results of their craft. And sometimes, it's just that the wizard came up with something crazy that they never shared and no one else really thought of and they died before they could create more. The last case seems to be one where ancient notes might be relevant.

    I'm not sure how to feel about that last possibility though. A lot of HP style magic is probably "grounded" to some degree, with stuff like symbolism and objects being relevant. To come up with something so crazy people couldn't replicate even after trying for quite a while feels a bit too ungrounded for my taste.
     
  2. DrSarcasm

    DrSarcasm Headmaster

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    We had an example of unique circumstances creating unique magical effects in the main story, too: the whole love's protection sacrifice thing. There's probably been a lot of times where a person sacrifices themself to save a loved one, but the unique set of circumstances around Lily's (the prophecy, Snape asking Voldemort not to kill Lily, Lily's begging to kill her instead, Voldemort "accepting" that by killing her first, possibly the seven-part soul of Voldemort) and Harry's (mostly same as his mother's, plus the Horcrux connection and Deathly Hallows) sacrifice meant that you actually got a love protection effect instead of just dead bodies.
     
  3. moribund_helix

    moribund_helix Third Year

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    I suppose everyone would peak at the philosopher's stone.

    And yet canon ostensibly disagrees with you. Harry's invisibility cloak is one prime example. What's more, Gregorovich was actively trying to figure out the Elder Wand and did not manage to replicate it. Everyone has their own likes/dislikes and one is certainly free to make up stuff, like Taure does, to expand and explain hp's magic. Personally I'm not so much into arbitrary distinctions between unique/non-unique magical artifacts, nor into trying to shoehorn magic into technology's place. On top of that, I'm rather inclined to disregard some of JKR's playful silliness, like wizards blowing off the hinges of the doors. To each their own I guess.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2022
  4. Scarat

    Scarat Fourth Year

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    Canon only disagrees with me if you interpret the invisibility cloak and elder wand to have been created without any of the unique or restricted artifact processes I outlined. If you interpret them to be restricted in some way, then the inability to replicate them makes sense. The idea that some ancient wizards created artifacts so crazy that the couldn't be recreated purely off of some genius on their part is what feels too much for me to swallow. Canon hasn't explicitly supported or denied that possibility though.

    Flamel's had a long time after the PS to work on shit. If it was purely created from some genius on his part, it feels weird that it wasn't replicated and it feels weird that he hasn't created something equally if not more crazy since then.

    And why of all things does the "blowing the hinges off doors" thing bother you? That seems like a strange thing to be hung up on. Is it so weird that they would do that before figuring out the unlocking charm?

    Also, *why* aren't you into distinctions such as unique and non-unique magical artifacts? Is there something about it that really bothers you? I find it to be pretty interesting and it's one way in which magical development *doesn't* match up with technological advancement, so if anything, it seems like something that should appeal to you.
     
  5. moribund_helix

    moribund_helix Third Year

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    There are a lot of examples in science, and in maths especially, of people solving something very difficult and then not achieving anything greater (even if they continue being awesome) later in life. Inspiration (and some luck, and other factors) are not guaranteed to strike like clockwork every noon, usually it's once or just a few times during your lifetime.

    I just commented on this because I think it was mentioned here as an argument for evolution of magical knowledge. I don't count JKR comments as canon in general, only as I like. I don't really care for this particular one, it just seems full off playful silliness in an attempt to make the magical world even stranger/more whimsical.

    It's not that I'm against those distinctions. I just find them unhelpful, but it depends on how you mean them. I don't want to make exceptions for some artifacts and consider the rest to follow technological advancement. I don't want to make up stuff to explain away the creation of particular powerful artifacts while keeping a technological-style advancement. I see the notion of a technological-style advancement as a failure to imagine something better, a system that does not need exceptions or excuses, but encompasses and explains the system of knowledge and production of all artifacts.

    I know it's difficult to imagine anything different when all we know and experience is the technological progress of the last centuries, and I have not yet fully thought it through.
     
  6. Sauce Bauss

    Sauce Bauss Second Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I think one of the big distinctions between soft and hard magic that's relevant here is context. In a soft magic system, context is foundational. A weapon that has existed a thousand years is stronger because it has experienced that time. A weapon used to behead a king is elevated by the act. If one were to write a biography of objects and individuals, they are elevated and degraded by the sum total of their experiences. In hard magic, it tends to be much more formulaic. That which was created can be created again because the presumption is that doing the same steps will result in the same outcome. That is not true in soft magic. It was only this person, with this history, in this moment, with these desires, in this environment that a given outcome can occur.

    The First of something, the Last of something, something broken that is reforged. These bear symbolic weight, and make many existences unique.

    Consider healing, repairing, and untransfiguring in HP. It's not mechanical, it's conceptual (I have said this a thousand times by now, ha). Items and objects and people remember what they used to be, what they are meant to be, and in some systems can even know what it is possible for them to become.

    Taure and Steelbadger are on point. There is a context to creation and that context seems to be sapiocentric in HP. I particularly liked the analogy to art.

    Industrialization and linear, repeatable progress have stripped modernity of an appreciation for the artisanal. Consider the context of a reward for a specific achievement, a gift, a piece of artwork, or any other singular existence which is possessed today. Just because someone can give you a replica of a medal you earned, or a broach that your mother gave you, or a piece of artwork. Hell, even if it's a superior one in terms of construction. It's not as important. It does not bear the same weight emotionally. Aesthetic matters, context matters, history matters. The World™ has a point of view.

    On my phone so this is disjointed and garbage, but cbf to fix it.
     
  7. Scarat

    Scarat Fourth Year

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    Flamel has had several lifetimes though. And he doesn't seem to have replicated the Philosopher's Stone itself for some reason. The latter bit makes me suspect there might be a magical reason for it.

    What do you expect them to have used before the existence of the unlocking charm then?

    I honestly can't understand why this system that allows for unique or restricted artifacts bothers your tbh. To me, it feels fairly natural. People come up with magic, play around with it and figure things out about it, use tangible and intangible things in the process, and sometimes, they use something which is unique or hard to come by. Thus, you get restricted creatibility and unique items.

    Like, there are probably other interesting ways to set up magical and how it manifests throughout the centuries, but this one works fairly well and makes sense with the HP world.
     
  8. moribund_helix

    moribund_helix Third Year

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    keys

    This is probably on me. I don't have any issue with what you're explaining. I think it's a very valid explanation. What I'm against is using this as an excuse to say that these unique artifacts are exceptions and that magical development follows the pattern of advancement that technology does. That's my only issue.
     
  9. Scarat

    Scarat Fourth Year

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    Ah, I was mostly thinking about instances where they were trying to get entry into a place that they didn't have keys to, lol. Tbh, if I knew the reparo charm I might blast off the door of my own house and just repair it as a means of entry, but yeah, I imagine wizards used keys too (when they had them).

    Regarding the latter part, why? Do you want these unique artifacts to have more of a presence (in terms of numbers) if they are there? Or do you just dislike the emphasis placed on technological style advancement? I'm really confused here tbh.
     
  10. MonkeyEpoxy

    MonkeyEpoxy The Cursed Child DLP Supporter

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    I'd imagine keys to be more... sacrosanct in the wizarding world. Not sure what precisely I mean, but I'm thinking of Hagrid as the Keeper of the Keys and the Grounds.

    It's more neat if he literally has some dope ass keys
     
  11. moribund_helix

    moribund_helix Third Year

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    They tried another door/the windows first.

    Yes. Let me try to make it clear. In the hp universe the magical system is extremely powerful. All and any similarities to our world (like Weasleys being poor, research papers, cameras, wizarding "wireless", etc) exist because the target audience was children & also because it was imagined by a writer drew from her (muggle) experience. It's a fantasy world which solves many of our problems and is familiar enough so we can place ourselves in it. So it's a matter of approach, do you try to imagine how a world based on this type of magic available would really be? Or do you try to keep with hp's society and try to explain away/make Weasleys' poverty more believable etc (or not look very closely into those)?

    The technological progress we know of is a product of the industrial revolution primarily and the systems that emerged. Also based in advancements in science. So imagine we found out that someone ~1000 years ago had built a spaceship that could easily and quickly leave our solar system, come back, leave earth again etc. Wouldn't that throw into question what kind of progress we're making? Such a spaceship wouldn't make sense in our world.

    And yet, in the magical world such things exist (like the elder wand). And here comes the matter of approach:

    Do you try to imagine a system that truly incorporates the existence of such artifacts? Then you have to re-imagine what magical knowledge means, how it applies to artisan-ship etc. You have to think on magical epistemology as it were, and then go from there.

    Or do you say that such artifacts are products of some fluke? Say that magic allows for such exceptions and peculiarities? So magic follows the familiar technological-like advancement. And knowledge is built bit by bit like in the muggle world.
     
  12. Ssenrof

    Ssenrof Squib

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    I don’t think we should extrapolate how magical advancement works from the Stone, cloak, and wand.

    they could just be the artifacts from a God, and so, that wizards can’t surpass them or reproduce them is hardly relevant.

    Everything else, I’d say advances plenty fast. Relatively, Far faster than our modern technology.

    There are billions of humans, there are likely more scientists than wizards.

    If humans had the same population that wizards do, you can bet that their technological progress would be far slower than magical progress.

    How many wizards are researching new magic? A thousand? A hundred?

    If there were billions of wizards, how much faster would their growth be?

    There’s also another facet of advancement, incentive. Lots of our innovations are heavily incentivized.

    War, competition, destitute poverty , profit. Etc...

    Wizards have much less of that. Where profit happens to be an incentive, we do see growth- we know new potions are invented, and faster brooms are made.

    Frankly, that wizards innovate at all is amazing, considering the population and incentive structures they are on.

    It makes me believe, that magical progress is potentially factors of ten times faster than our technological progress. It’s just that, wizard society isn’t structured around innovation like our society is, and wizard population is rather small.

    If we controlled for demographic differences, and incentive structures- I think magic will progress far faster than our modern technology.


    Arguably, Our capitalist system, requires innovation/growth. Which means that such innovation is highly incentivized, and accommodated.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2022
  13. moribund_helix

    moribund_helix Third Year

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    But they are not. They were made by wizards.
     
  14. Ssenrof

    Ssenrof Squib

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    That’s a theory, from Dumbledore. Not a fact.
    Truth is, nobody knows where those artifacts came from.
     
  15. aAlouda

    aAlouda High Inquisitor

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    Dumbledore is the most knowledgable/brilliant wizard in the setting, explicitly researched them in his youth and had the opportunity to outright study all three of the Hallows.

    I dont see any reason to doubt his conclusion. When there is nothing supporting them not being made by wizards, other than a fairy tale.
     
  16. Ssenrof

    Ssenrof Squib

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    All he said is that he thought it was more likely.

    He doesn’t say how much more likely, and so I don’t see how we can evaluate his claim at all.

    and even then, it’s his speculation, not a conclusion.

    there doesn’t have to be a reason to doubt it, it’s speculation. There’s no reason to just accept it as fact in the first place.

    Although, it probably doesn’t even matter. Just the fact that Dumbeldore thinks it’s possible that the artifacts are wizard made, tells us what we need to know about ancient, unique artifacts.

    That, at least for some things, Ancient >= modern, even when it comes to item creation- and that progress isn’t omnipresent across magical item creation.

    Another poster noted that it seems like ancient love magic is just as strong as modern love magic.

    maybe the deathly hallows are the result of some ancient death magic? With similarly specific, requirements That love magic has? So that it just doesn’t happen very often?

    I guess, that’s where my thoughts are on the topic now.

    Some magic can see immense improvement, like basic charms, potions

    But ancient magic, fueled by raw emotion etc... hasn’t seen any innovation.

    there are real world parallels.

    We haven’t really made much progress in the Philosophy Space, we are still around where Plato and Aristotle were - when it comes to answering the big questions.

    maybe, ancient magic like love, death, etc... are the magical equivalent of the philosophical questions relating to the meaning of life.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2022
  17. aAlouda

    aAlouda High Inquisitor

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    That is just the way Dumbledore talks, in the same conversation he even outright says that his guesses usually turn out to be right.

    His narrative role, especially at that point in the story is to act as Author Surrogate to convey information to the reader and elaborate on things that have happened. Doubting his words at that point is kinda weird.
     
  18. Ssenrof

    Ssenrof Squib

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    On a meta-level I Interpreted the exchange as being intentionally coy and ambiguous.

    If Rowling wanted to portray it as fact, I think she would have had Hermione read it out of a secret, ancient book.

    This gets into how we take authorial intent when having a character speak, which really derails the thread,

    And I concede the point- just the fact that Dumbledore thinks it’s possible that the Hallows are wizard made/ means we can assume such objects of power are actually possible to make, and so we can just assume either they are wizard made, or something equivalent to them is.

    it would be bizarre if dumbledore thought it was possible to make the hallows, if no similarly powerful objects have ever been made by a wizard. We don’t even need to assume this, as arguably the philosophers Stone is more impressive than the hallows, and just like the hallows- the Stone is apparently a unique artifact.

    time turners, also seem to be semi-unique artifacts. As they apparently can’t make more?
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2022
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