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The Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by LucyInTheSkye, Sep 3, 2020.

  1. aAlouda

    aAlouda Seventh Year

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    I mean, there is the possibility that you can create humans through transfiguration, but since transfiguration wouldn't be able to create souls, you would basically end up with something resembling a victim of a Dementor's kiss.

    Just a reminder how it was described.
     
  2. LucyInTheSkye

    LucyInTheSkye Second Year

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    Interesting read! I agree with you on the food, I think the exception refers to meals or food ready to eat. Your appletree with apples example from the last thread was really interesting and I have no solution for that, but I think with a carrot patch we know that Hagrid grows at least pumpkins and cabbages, and Sprout quite possibly other edibles. So I think they can't be conjured just like that? Maybe.

    Did you throw flexible glass in there as a joke or is that actually something you reckon could be number five?
     
  3. kelkorkesis

    kelkorkesis Fifth Year

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    Plato’s allegory of the cave is a well treaded path when it comes to talk about transfiguration in Harry Potter. So, get ready for another interpretation and my headcannon about it.
    • Transfiguration in Harry Potter operates on a conceptual basis. It is easy to turn one thing to another because they are both spiky or circular.
    • According to Rowling transfiguration changes the physical nature of the object while doesn’t touch magical nature.
    Considering these two points, here is my definition of how transfiguration: Transfiguration is the magical art of interacting Platonic ideals of an object. A student of Transfiguration would learn:
    • Platonic ideals
    • Dissect an object to its platonic ideas (Something like finding prime factors of a number if you will)
    • Apply and remove platonic ideas on an object
    Example 1 - Hedgehog to Pincushion

    Hedgehog: animate, animal, spiky, fleshy …
    Pincushion: inanimate, tool, needles, …
    Needles: inanimate, tool, metal, spiky, …

    To transfigure hedgehog to pincushion, a student needs to remove animal, and alive ideals from the hedgehog and add inanimate, tool and needle ideals to it.

    Example 2 - McGonagall’s Chess Set

    Adding animate and rule ideals to chess pieces and removing inanimate ideal should give us her chess set under transfiguration rules.

    Example 3 - Conjuration

    Adding ideals of the object you desire to the ideal of nothingness (or vacuum if you want to something more physical) is how conjuration works under this premise.

    Q: How does Gamp’s Exemption of food work under this explanation?
    A: I would like to remark that you can’t create good food transfiguration according to Hermione. Considering this, I claim that you can actually create food. My explanation for this exemption is that there is a platonic ideal wizards are missing to transfigure good food with transfiguration for now.

    A much whimsy explanation is this: If you apply the ideal of sweetness while transfiguring a banana, the end result is too sweet. So, you either create something utterly bland or something with and overpowering taste. No good food either case.

    Q: Are there any more exemptions?
    A: Yes. Transfiguration is strictly about modifying physical nature. You can’t use it to change or create or replicate strictly magical objects. That’s why you don’t see Snape conjuring his potion ingredients or healers conjuring souls for Dementor's Kiss victims.

    You also can’t create information you do not possess, because you lack the platonic ideals of it.

    Q: So, untransfiguration? (I hate this name)
    A: A (properly) transfigured object is its new form physically for all intents and purposes. However, since it still carries the magical nature of its previous self, a wizard can use this knowledge to restore a transfigured object to its original state. Unfit or lack of magical aspects are the trace Transfiguration magic leaves behind.

    Q: Do you think I need to reduce a desk to its platonic ideals to transfigure one?
    A: Not necessarily. You don’t need to be aware of which platonic ideals you know yourself. But you know a desk is a desk, so it is possible for you to transfigure one. Transfiguration lessons helps you to gain awareness of your knowledge.

    Q: So, I don’t need to do full reduction to platonic ideals for transfiguration, right?
    A: Yes. But more specific and elaborate you are with platonic ideals, more specific and elaborate results you will get.

    Q: What about faulty or incomplete transfigurations?
    A: If you add or remove wrong ideals, or don’t add or remove right ideas you get that.

    Q: Elemental (fire, lightning, water) transfigu…
    A: Add their platonic ideals to the object. Next

    Q: Quintapeds?
    A: Somebody enjoyed playing with platonic ideals too much.

    Q: Your explanation means that I can create humans:
    A: No, it means that you can create a perfect physical replica of human bodies. Good luck with magical aspects.
     
  4. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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  5. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    With shelter, I have no problem with the "you can use transfiguration for the intermediate steps, but you cannot directly transfigure the final product" approach. And actually it works quite well with the Burrow: it's undoubtedly been put together with magic, but also clearly the Weasleys have not been able to just magic up a complete house. They've had to do it manually, sticking things together with magic etc. which is why it has its wonky look.

    If everyone could conjure up a beautiful house, then beautiful houses wouldn't be special. It's not that you can't transfigure a few planks and cover your head. It's that you can't just transfigure yourself a complete, proper house. We might say this is "good shelter", just as the food exception relates to "good food".

    On food, I think the "you can create a pig, but you can't create pork chops" approach can be applied fairly neatly to, for example, apples: you can create an apple tree, but you can't create an apple.

    If we extend the "good" mechanic to all the rules, you eliminate the need for minor exceptions as the principal exceptions are more qualified.

    So, how about this:

    Element: an aspect or part of a physical thing. E.g. the heating element of a kettle.

    Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration: Transfiguration can create, destroy, or alter any element.

    Principal Exceptions: five elements cannot be created by transfiguration magic unless already present.

    The five exceptions are:

    1. Good Food

    Objects that are eaten as food in that form. Does not prevent the creation of ingredients or things that may become ingredients with further processing.

    2. Good Shelter

    Complete, architecturally sound structures. Does not prevent the creation of building materials or rudimentary/temporary structures.

    3. Good Money

    Precious metals and precious gems. Does not prevent the creation of paper or fiat money.

    4. Good Clothes

    Complete clothing in decent condition. Does not prevent the creation of textiles or rags.

    5. Good Health

    Virility, vigour, rejuvenation. Does not prevent the use of transfiguration to heal specific injuries like broken bones. But you cannot transfigure an old person into a younger version of themselves; nor can you transfigure a person who is frail from long sickness back to how they were before they contracted the illness; nor can you transfigure something rotten into something fresh.

    Note the "unless already present" part of the exceptions. So you can transfigure an apple pie into a steak pie, because it's already good food. And you can also transfigure a skirt into a shirt, because it's already clothes.

    These rules are pretty concrete: it doesn't matter who the wizard is, you just can't do the things outlined.

    However, there would also be another part of transfiguration theory which describes limitations which are relative to the caster. This is, I think the appropriate area for limitations based on knowledge and aesthetics:

    - A rule which prevents creation of books holding knowledge the caster does not possess.

    - A rule which prevents creation of maps containing places the caster does not know of.

    - A rule which prevents creation of artistic objects beyond the caster's artist talent.

    With the last one specifically, I want to preserve the possibility that transfiguration can be used to create objects of beauty. But to do so requires the caster to be performing transfiguration as its own art form, like a magical brush which is moulding matter. You can't just conjure up the Mona Lisa; you have to use transfiguration to express your own artistic talent.
     
  6. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Professor

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    Can't that equally be explained by the size limitation? Houses are bigger than dragons and...

    I would think conjuration would have a similar (possibly even greater) size limitation than straight transfiguration.
     
  7. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    The Burrow, I think, has been built in stages, adding more bedrooms as more kids were born - I don't think the size of a bedroom is near the upper limit of size for a transfiguration. There is of course the aspect of individual skill in there too, which could definitely explain it, but I think the shelter exemption fits nicely.

    One reason why I abandoned my "food, gold, silver, bronze, gems" approach is that food just ends up sticking out like a sore thumb - food is a category whereas the others are all specific. Definitely a case of one feeling different to all the others. It's a similar feeling for stuff like love, knowledge or beauty - they're not physical enough.

    The "food, shelter, money, clothes, health" approach I feel is much more thematically unified. They're all physical in nature, but all more general than a specific physical thing. They're also all things which are considered life basics. It also fits the Potter setting well in terms of what we see being valued by wizards. The use of the "good" mechanic then just irons out the little issues many of them would face if you took them at face value alone.
     
  8. LucyInTheSkye

    LucyInTheSkye Second Year

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    I like that a lot, great job! I think you're right that it will be things that fit together, and fit with elemental refering to something fundamental or primary to witches and wizards, need-wise. There will have been a reason why JKR picked that word to describe the law. And fine-tuning it with defining it as 'good' makes everything we know from canon work I reckon.
     
  9. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    @Taure
    Well, there is nothing saying you can't somehow group gold, silver, gems to some-however-named whole. I just dunno that I'd call it "good money", but that's just semantics at that point.

    However, I'm iffy on shelter. Or, at least we'd have to discuss the definition of shelter. For one, you don't need an Exception for transfiguring earth into a manor, because that is just ridiculous. Even Dumbledore couldn't do that, if it were possible. For another, I return to my compound items. What makes a manor a manor? If you can't transfigure magical items, it makes no sense that you could transfigure a manor including secret passages, pensieves, the Weasley clock and a cellar of Ogden's Finest. So there's really not much of a manor left, entirely without Exception.

    Point being, you don't need the Exception to explain the Burrow, since it's perfectly reasonable that transfiguring that thing in one go far exceeds any Weasley's skill.

    So downscaling: Can you transfigure a hut? If you really do want "shelter", you'd really have to lean on the conceptual nature: A hut can be transfigured, but it's not "shelter", because it's uncomfortable as all fuck. And what you can't transfigure is a hut with a rug, a bed, and a cozy, burning fire. ... which kinda is a compound item again, and could simply exceed anyone's skill.

    So eh. Iunno. As opposed to "food", "shelter" can be stretched too far to be convenient, I think. The thing with food and gold is that it's really basic, in the sense of "not very complicated". A lump of sugar. A gold nugget. You should be able to create those, if you can do needles and matchsticks. But you can't, because Exception.

    I feel the other exceptions should have similar properties.
     
  10. MonkeyEpoxy

    MonkeyEpoxy Fourth Champion DLP Supporter

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    I like these a lot, and this might be better for a separate thread, but magical/enchanted artifacts. We know that the Philosopher's Stone/Elixir of Life can circumvent exceptions 3 and 5. Could some genius witch or wizard out there end up creating something that circumvents the rest? Some wizard that hitched a ride on the Mayflower and was obsessed with the horn of plenty?
     
  11. JuniorAL

    JuniorAL Second Year

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    I just thought of something, technology, this could be a possible exception.

    From Goblet of Fire Chapter Twenty-Eight

    “Maybe she had you bugged,” said Harry.
    “Bugged?” said Ron blankly. “What . . . put fleas on her or something?”
    Harry started explaining about hidden microphones and recording equipment. Ron was fascinated, but Hermione interrupted them.
    “Aren’t you two ever going to read Hogwarts, A History?”
    “What’s the point?” said Ron. “You know it by heart, we can just ask you.”
    “All those substitutes for magic Muggles use — electricity, computers, and radar, and all those things — they all go haywire around Hogwarts, there’s too much magic in the air. No, Rita’s using magic to eavesdrop, she must be. . . . If I could just find out what it is . . . ooh, if it’s illegal, I’ll have her . . .”


    Magic and Technology don't mix together, so you wouldn't be able to conjure or make muggle technology, anything that runs on electricity or that is otherwise advanced. You could transfigure technology into something else because as we know magic overrides science.

    So now my new list of 5 Principal Exceptions is: Gold, Good Food, Silver, Good Health, and Technology.

    Yes, this means you could make precious gems if you're skilled enough, but that doesn't mean they're not valuable. And if you're good enough to make diamonds you deserve any money you make by selling them. I mean technically I could just make sandwiches and sell them too, doesn't mean sandwiches are worthless.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2020
  12. EkulTeabag

    EkulTeabag Seventh Year

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    I dunno if it's just me, but reading this thread make me wonder why people put gold and silver (and precious stones) as separate, when they could both be lumped together as simply "currency". As proven by the Weasleys, you can't just magic up a bigger bank balance.

    Also, I have no idea if it was canon or just a bit of fanon, but years ago I swear I read the five exceptions were wealth, knowledge, food, love, and life. Can't remember where I read this, but it stuck with me all these years and I just sort of accepted it was the correct list.
     
  13. wordhammer

    wordhammer Supreme Mugwump DLP Supporter

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    I understand the idea behind Taure's exceptions for shelter, but it doesn't make much sense to my headcanon. JKR magic has some conceptual rules, but there's evidence that they follow at least some form of semi-regimented rules that could be discovered using the scientific method. It doesn't feel like Gamp's law and its exceptions were rules imposed from above which magic has to bend around. The more likely and believable scenario is that people stumbled across problems with transfiguration and someone eventually worked out a functional principle to guide research into the whys and workarounds.

    To put it another way, I think anyone with enough time, imagination, and concentration could transfigure a hill into mansion, much as I believe a person with free access to the contents of a Home Depot could eventually build their own house from the ground up. What is possible there isn't what's practical or likely, but it is possible.
     
  14. AlexIY

    AlexIY First Year

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    I feel like Gold and Silver would just fall under precious metals if the rule existed as such. Similarly, you probably wouldn't be able to create Platinum or Palladium. It's likely that the rule itself isn't "you can't use Transfiguration to create food" but it's more like "you can't use transfiguration to create something that has an arduous process that involves mixing various different processes". Which is to say, you can't create food, potions, alchemical substances for that same reason.

    So IMO the five are:

    1. Can't create items with various base components as their substances, especially if the components go through individual processes for their creation (eg; cutting the vegetables, cooking the chicken, and then mixing them together in a premade broth).

    2. Precious Metals.

    3. Gems/Gemstones

    4. Human Souls (clearly animal souls can be created by Magic as they can create real Dogs/Birds)

    5. Magic (self-explanatory in most of JKR's writings, she said that Magic doesn't control Magic the way it supersedes the mundane).
     
  15. wordhammer

    wordhammer Supreme Mugwump DLP Supporter

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    Of course, it may simply be that transfiguration of food and precious metals is entirely possible, just not with the spells in common use up through the 20th century. Gamp's law may be the equivalent of Newton's laws of physics - workable at that level of complexity, but not the actual framework of the universe.
     
  16. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Professor

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    Possibly but I think there is merit in drawing separate lines for "things magic can't do" and "things we believe may be possible but we don't know how to do". This second group all to often gets ignored in fanfiction. When someone wants to show how great a character is, they have them break a "can't" rule, where as I'd argue the "possible" bucket is far more interesting and less hand wavy.
     
  17. Sin

    Sin First Year

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    It could be the case, as observed elsewhere, that the things we happen to value (gems, gold, silver, bronze) are a holdover from a time when there was much more interaction with the Wizarding World, where these were valued precisely because they, for whatever reason, cannot be convincingly transfigured or conjured.

    So, Precious Metals, Precious Stones.

    On the matter of food it may be worth considering that Gamp's Law could be a hubristic failure. It may well be possible but require an impractical degree of psychological unsoundess, for instance, the ability to completely divorce the food (conceptually) from its past. One would have to essentially forget the object is being transfigured while transfiguring it. (This may also be an exception to the death part of the next group.)

    Food (assumed, unfomfirmed).

    The fact that canon does not really test transfigured objects or creatures with regard to their properties, and the fact that live creatures can be turned into objects and back into live creatures has always struck me as being somewhat strange. Slughorn's self-transfiguration into an armchair, which one might fairly assume requires him to retain enough Slughorn-ness to turn himself back, also raises some questions as to wether one can, in fact, transfigure a living creature, as opposed to a very good simulacrum of one. I would argue this suggests one cannot bring life into this world, or indeed take it out, by means of transfiguration.

    Life or Death.

    Magical items cannot be conjured or transfigured for the simple reason that their magical properties cannot be simulated. The space for this law can be made by collapsing the first or the third pair into one exception.

    Presumably there is also a limit on paradoxical transfigurations, e.g. transfiguration into "the answer to question x to which I do not know the answer".

    Why do people not transfigure clothes or building materials from vastly different matter? Sheer impracticality. Though I'm not certain whether canon mentions it (it has been a while since I read the books), it may be the case that transfigurations are not permanent, and it could be embarrassing to be found to have transfigured one's fancy cloak, or indeed conjured one's trousers, in the middle of a social gathering. Similarly, one appreciates a certain reliability in the load bearing elements of one's dwelling.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
  18. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    How would that follow?

    I said before that one way to view "untransfiguration" is assuming whatever we see being untransfigured (Draco, Slughorn) was only partially transfigured and hence could be reversed, while complete transfigurations can only be transfigured again (no "un"). But how does this imply that complete transfigurations are impossible?
     
  19. Sin

    Sin First Year

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    If I believed it followed, I wouldn't have gone with "suggests" to indicate as much. I think it is likely and interesting.

    You apparently prefer to imagine that there is such a thing as complete transfiguration, and you are free to do so, but I don't see why this preference should have any bearing on my view, particularly given how poorly it fits within canon. If there is such a thing as complete transfiguration, McGonagall either does not teach it or her class of 11 year olds is engaged in the wholesale slaughter of small animals, no competent wizard would bother keeping an owl instead of transfiguring one on the spot when needed, and people would transfigure each other into dildoes instead of mucking about with the Killing Curse.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
  20. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    ???

    What's with the semantics.

    I was asking you how what you said (presumably, the sentences I quoted, because they precede the assertion) "suggests" that "life cannot be created" because I don't understand. I agreed with you that Slughorn wasn't fully transfigured. Now how does that suggest anything about what one can or cannot do w.r.t. creating life?


    Also, of course animals are routinely removed from existence in transfiguration classes, I don't see what problem is. The rest of the points all have their individual answers as well (owls aren't just owls, but magical owls, and you can't transfigure those; human transfiguration is exceedingly complicated etc. pp.) and it fits exceedingly well with Canon, which is no surprise either, since Rowling said transfiguration fully changes the nature of the object -- but all that was really not relevant to what I was asking.
     
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