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The Five Exceptions to Gamp's Law (Revisited)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Taure, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. Donimo

    Donimo Groundskeeper

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    As the door creaked, low, rumbling growls met their ears. All three of the dog’s noses sniffed madly in their direction, even though it couldn’t see them.
    “What’s that at its feet?” Hermione whispered.
    “Looks like a harp,” said Ron. “Snape must have left it there.”
    “It must wake up the moment you stop playing,” said Harry. “Well, here goes…”
    He put Hagrid’s flute to his lips and blew. It wasn’t really a tune, but from the first note the beast’s eyes began to droop. Harry hardly drew breath. Slowly, the dog’s growls ceased — it tottered on its paws and fell to its knees, then it slumped to the ground, fast asleep.
     
  2. Heosphoros

    Heosphoros Third Year

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    I would expand on Taure's exception on Wand Wood so as to include other "muggle" ingredients that are used on magical artifices. Though I can't quite recall the extent, I believe that a good chunk of potion ingredients are just bits and pieces of regular plants and animals (aconite comes to mind). I would postulate that those plants and animals, while easily created through transfiguration, the results of such would be unusable for potions and wand making. Even if indistinguishable from the natural ones by muggle scientists. Thus muggle things, even though lacking in magical nature and neat special effects, would still possess subtle magical properties that are important to magical disciplines and impossible to create out of nothing. So Magical Properties as one of the exceptions, though the name isn't optimal.

    That might not be about magic replacing human creativity, as much as magic channelling Rita's creativity. By your Magical Theory, magic requires knowing the theory even if you don't need to explicitly think about it when casting a spell. So, through a similar process, the Quick Quotes Quill can write in the style of a person even if they are not thinking about it consciously. To link to Gamp's Exceptions, you are not creating creativity out of nothing, but using the creativity that is already there. In that same line is my addendum to the Book/Human Knowledge and Artwork exemptions, you can make those through transfiguration but to the extent of your creativity and knowledge. With possibly some specific magical theory to do that right, a class of Magical Art/Literature if you will (which would be a nice elective now that I think about it).
     
  3. Polkiuj

    Polkiuj Squib

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    Though consider that the wood used in wand making is not harvested from mundane plants.

    From the Pottermore article concerning Wand Woods:
    "Only a minority of trees can produce wand quality wood (just as a minority of humans can produce magic). It takes years of experience to tell which ones have the gift, although the job is made easier if Bowtruckles are found nesting in the leaves, as they never inhabit mundane trees."
    (Emphasis mine)
    Link: https://www.pottermore.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/wand-woods

    Wand Wood is clearly reported here to be of a magical nature, though what this magic is exactly isn't specified. It could potentially just be some arbitrary binary "suited for wands" or "not suited for wands" attribute, and nothing more, since it is so hard to identify it requires so much training.

    It is already postulated that Transfiguration specifically couldn't be used to replicate inherently magical properties. Therefor I propose that the creation of Wand Wood simply falls outside of the the purview of Transfiguration entirely.

    I hope I do not step on anyone's toes with this post.
     
  4. LinguaManiac

    LinguaManiac Fourth Year

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    I've always thought of the exceptions, as I think of magic more generally, as having a spiritual dimension. One cannot transfigure food from nothing, as there is a spiritual component to food. But in the books (if I remember correctly) it says that one can increase the quantity of food once food exists. Thus too with gold, which has a spiritual connotation in alchemy. It isn't that "money" is prohibited (after all, that would prohibit the transfiguration of paper, muggle money, or sea-shells, which some cultures have used as a marker of exchange). So I propose re-creating your list as:

    1) Create food

    2) (Create) Gold

    3) Create Clothes (allowing them to be transfigured, see next response)

    4) Knowledge

    5) A soul (i.e. one can change the shape of a person, but the soul does not alter. Of course, this might be covered by your point about Gamp's law being about physical things, and therefore...)

    6) Art

    Of course, I should point out that obvious counter-example: Ollivander shot wine from Cedric's wand. If there is anything other than food or knowledge that is more intimately associated with the soul and spirituality than wine, I don't know what it is.


    The exceptions can be more specific, i.e. one cannot conjure/create clothing. To transfigure one set of clothing to another may fall outside of the exception.
     
  5. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Groundskeeper

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    Great find on that quote. I was thinking about making a similar post based upon just the Bowtruckles fact but gave up because I didn't think I could complete the argument. That quote does so nicely.

    I do have to wonder though...

    Canon shows you can turn one magical creature into another. We see this with the Quintapeds, which are magical beasts transfigured from wizards. Likewise in the food exception, Hermione is explcit that you can transform food once you have some to start with.

    Does that mean you could transfigure something into wand wood if you started with a magical plant base? Magical plants can be cultivated consistently while wand wood is farmed from the wild. Can anyone think of a reason wand-makers don't just transfigure wand wood starting from a pile of bubotubers?
     
  6. MrBucket

    MrBucket Fourth Year

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    I don't know if quintapeds necessarily work as an example that you can do that. It might, I'm just not sure. They didn't transfigure wizards into quintapeds. They transfigured wizards into strange creatures which were later named as quintapeds. So while you can transfigure wizards into new bizarre magical creatures, I'm not sure if you can turn a unicorn into a hippogriff, for example.

    As for the wand woods, I think you could make a case for transfigured wood not having the necessary symbolic value.
     
  7. Polkiuj

    Polkiuj Squib

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    Thank you for the reply and the question.

    Maybe, and this is just my personal interpretation is that, assuming the rumors were true, the Transfiguration that created Quintapeds was botched and therefor the rules one would normally apply to Transfiguration doesn't fully work.

    Normally Transfiguration won't touch magical properties, but something went wrong. Turning the wizards into horrible magical creatures. We do know that when magic goes wrong it's either comically strange or horrifyingly bizarre depending on the context of the situation and spell being used.

    So, no. I don't believe wizards could Transfigure [thing with magic] into [other thing with magic], the Quintapeds were just an anomaly.

    Though do we know of what exactly it is that makes Quintapeds magical?
    Could they simply be considered warped in form and mind from the Transfiguration without needing to take the magical properties of wizards into account? (Like with Ferret-Draco for example)
    What makes a hippogriff magical outside of the fact that it is impossible for a half-bird half-horse body like that to exist in nature?
    Is the Quintaped "impossible" in a similar way and therefor needing some magic to hold it together?
    Couldn't a wizard simply Transfigure a dog for example to grow an extra leg and rearrange the limbs a bit?

    And, of course, it could be that the MoM personell tasked with Untransfiguring the Quintapeds were simply misinformed of their nature, they could have been changed by some other method, like a very nasty potion, or it could have been a cover up of some illegal interbreeding of magical creatures, but that is admittedly just speculation on my part. And that is not what we want here.

    I agree with @Taure that magical powers are simply outside of what Transfiguration could affect under normal circumstances.

    I fear I do not make much sense, please let me know if I am being confusing or perhaps got something wrong. I would not claim to know everything about the topic at hand.

    @MrBucket got my point before I could post.
     
  8. marsolino

    marsolino Muggle

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    I see Gamp’s Law regarding food more as a warning to children than an actual Law.

    They teach in school that you can’t create food. The student nods and doesn’t do so. But why? Why can’t you create food?

    My answer is thus: you can create food out of nothing, but it is a temporary construct that will dissolve. If it does so when you’ve already digested it it would lead to problems and maybe death.

    Transfigured food? Doable, but the transfiguration will eventually revert, so if you transfigured a rock in a sandwich, you are eating a rock disguised as a sandwich, which you would have eaten and then have reverted back into a rock inside of your body.

    This goes with my head canon that while transfiguration has very useful battle applications is practically useless in real life unless you apply it to get short-term benefits, because what you transfigured will eventually turn back to it’s original form.

    Permanent transfiguration is, I think, what alchemy actually is, completely transform one object to another so absolutely that it will not reverse and actually have the qualities of the object desired.
     
  9. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    <sigh>
     
  10. JuniorAL

    JuniorAL First Year

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    English is not my 1st language but I thought I should make my contribution to this thread.

    Here are my Five Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Transfiguration

    Good Food: Even increasing its quantity seems to be difficult, think of how Hagrid grows his pumpkins, it's a combination of magic + the natural process. He also had to do a similar thing to grow the plants of the 3rd task in GoF. You can transfigure it but not conjure it.

    Drink: It is a narrow exception and while you can conjure water with Charms, it's still a physical thing and therefore it should count as one of the laws if you can't do it with transfiguration alone. You can transfigure it but not conjure it.

    Real Gold: Voldemort can conjure silver which counts as money, "real gold" is a narrower exception. You may be able to transfigure it but not conjure it.

    Bodyparts (Organs, limbs, etc): I just think it makes sense and it would also mean that you can't conjure potion ingredients or a human eye (Which count as food if you're a cannibal). You can transfigure but not conjure.

    The 5th law: Could be a statement as to how PERMANENT CONJURATION is impossible. You cannot conjure anything that lasts forever.

    Personally, I think these laws exist because conjured food/objects/etc all lack Quintessence. I believe that a Philosopher's stone is something filled with quintessence and that is why it can be used to create a new body for Voldemort, real gold, extend life, etc.

    I also don't like strictly scientific explanations, maybe magic cares about gold but that does not mean that it cares about silver or plutonium.

    Ps: The 5th law may seem redundant but it isn't if you agree that you can't even conjure good food with a limited duration such as to fool someone with it or to sell it to muggles.

    Also, while you can transfigure some of the exceptions mentioned above, you most definitely can't CONJURE them out of thin air.

    My post is not very neat, sorry about that, I tried.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2018
  11. AgentSatan

    AgentSatan First Year

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    My 5 exceptions to Gamp's law of transfiguration are-
    Food- Canon
    Humans- What I mean by this is that if someone loses a limb one cannot transfigure a small particle of skin to become the lost part of the leg. The reason I say this is because not only would healing be redundant because anyone could transfigure anything good as new, but Moody wouldn't have a prosthetic leg.
    Money- Maybe there is some ancient enchantment placed by goblins or safeguards like there is on cash, but that would make the entire wizarding economy worse than useless.
    Books- This is because unless one memorized the entire book and can imagine it then they can't transfigure it. It's a conceptual limitation so you technically can, but it's very difficult.
    Enchanted objects- An enchanted object has to be enchanted, and you may conjure the object, but you can't conjure enchantments.
     
  12. Flurol

    Flurol Squib

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    I see lots of the very general, magic, life, soul etc answers which make sense however I believe creating life for example is a far more general rule of magic rather than transfiguration.

    I think Gold is a correct assumption, as people have mentioned the Stone this would be an exception specifically relating to transfiguration specifically.

    As far as we know some of the other branches of magic could be able to make or imitate gold, maybe there is a potion that would turn everything it was poured on to gold but the ingredients so expensive it couldn't be used to make money, but importantly you can't just transfigure it or the economy would be screwed.

    Regarding
    I would counter that if you can transfigure your head into a sharks head for example you should be able to transfigure something into a book, both are incredibly complex things to remember in the entirety but the biology of a sharks head is if you look small enough impossibly complicated. There is no way that a human mind could hold all of the information about it at the same time, there must be some element of knowing what you want as a general concept rather than all the details, this would allow someone adept at transfiguration to make transfiguration text books.

    Obviously flourish and blots exists so this can't be happening much so I wondered if maybe all published books have 'Taboos' on them similar to Voldermort in the final book. Making it impossible to copy the book without the publishers finding out or flat out making it impossible?

    Regarding the body parts it is definitely possible to transfigure body parts, we are told that dark magic can't be healed (hence Moody's leg) maybe it isn't possible to transfigure yourself permanently? Otherwise no one would look a day over 25 everyone would be tall and good looking etc.
     
  13. AgentSatan

    AgentSatan First Year

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    @Flurol I think that books may have some sort of curse that you cannot transfigure/conjure them. Maybe something similar to a taboo as you said. The point about transfiguring the shark head, however, I think doesn't make sense. I think that Krum transfigured himself into a shark with an incantation, and for each separate book you would need a separate incantation. A new spell for every book is not practical, and doesn't make sense. In my original post I meant that there couldn't be a standardized spell which could conjure/transfigure any book, because of the conceptual limitation. Each book having it's own spell just wouldn't be practical. So I standby my rule about books.
     
  14. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    @Sesc A question for you on the narrow definition of food with respect to the exception to Gamp's Law.

    The position with meat seems to me to be fairly clear. You can create animals, because animals are not food. But you cannot directly transfigure something into a steak. A person skilled in butchery and cooking might turn a transfigured animal into food, but those are not acts of transfiguration and therefore not prevented by the exception.

    But what about the position with fruit and vegetables? Unlike an animal, an apple is already food in its natural state. Do you think wizards can transfigure things into apples? I am inclined to say they cannot. Like you can make a cow but not a steak, I'd say wizards can make an apple tree seed but not an apple.
     
  15. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    Yeah, that's the question. And also the reason I originally decided to go with the narrow definition, see e.g. here.

    With the broad definition, it's flat out impossible: There are certain ferns you can eat, people also eat the bark of birchtrees etc.pp., so all of that you couldn't transfigure -- in other words, transfiguration would be useless, or not transfiguration. With the narrow definition, at least you have a shot, although it's kinda messy as well.

    Here's my attempt, let's start easy:

    You can transfigure seeds, grass, plants in general. This means you could transfigure a dandelion and eat it (apparently, people do that for a salad). Presumably, you could also transfigure a lettuce and -- here it's gets more dubious -- also carrots etc. A transfigured carrot will be a full carrot, however. Like this. You couldn't conjure yourself a ready-made dish full of salad (lettuce leaves, strips of carrot, onion rings etc.pp.)

    What all of those have in common: They are plants which you eat whole. Trying to keep it consistent:

    You should also be able to transfigure a tree, in particular an apple tree. The tricky thing is now whether you can transfigure an apple tree with apples. I ... think I'd argue you could. By which I mean, Professor McGonagall could, not an average wizard, but there's nothing fundamentally preventing it. But what you can't transfigure is ripe apples only.

    Basically, I'm trying to draw the line between ready-to-eat parts of a plant (a pealed carrot, a ripe apple) and the full plant (an entire carrot, an apple tree with apples). The exception nixes the former, but doesn't cover the latter. It's not brilliant, but it's the best I can come up with.

    It's obviously possible to nix transfiguring an apple tree with apples as well, though. I'm just trying to keep it consistent between a grown dandelion, a grown carrot, and a grown tree. For your original question, however, I agree, the answer is no.
     
  16. nevu

    nevu First Year

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    Reading this, a different thought occurred with regards to why clothing isn't conjured. Could it be that it's just difficult to conjure/transfigure? Lots of details. People also seem to have their favorite conjurations/transfigurations - Slughorn's chair is instantly recognized by Dumbledore (though it isn't perfectly clear what school of magic he's using). It's probably (relatively) easy to conjure a burlap sack and cut some holes in it, but out of date, poor clothing would still be a better fashion statement than a sack.

    Most of the transfigurations we see being practiced in school involve translating one thing to another thing with very similar properties. Hedgehogs to pincushions (pointiness, shape), matches to needles (size, shape). This implies that the more differences between two objects being transfigured, the more difficult. Even the most basic of clothing designs still differ greatly from fabric in shape and size - there's added stitching to make it hold a different shape. Fashionable clothing usually is different colors, perhaps a different softness, etc. A person conjuring their favorite armchair is probably a spell they worked on for a long time. Do also note that Remus was quite young, compared to those we saw utilizing the more grand utilitarian transfigurations (Dumbledore/Slughorn, mainly).

    Passing protectionist legislation to protect Twilfit and Taftings does sound like a pretty plausible thing for the wizarding world to have done, though, as an alternate explanation.
     
  17. MrBucket

    MrBucket Fourth Year

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    Doubt this matters. Animals have a lot more details than clothes and they Transfigure them.
     
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