I think it likely that Snape used Legilimency exclusively on Harry, since in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, he deduced that Harry had learned Sectumsempra from his old Potions book. However, Dumbledore, being and exceptionally brilliant wizard, was probably just reading Harry's expression and body language.
Good essay! This is a topic I've thought about as well. There are so many types of magic in the wizarding world which raise these kinds of dilemmas.
I always thought that Dumbledore was able to sense whether or not Harry was lying, but that he wouldn't invade someone's privacy by actually reading their thoughts or memories by force. I do think that there is always that question of when its use might be justified.
Even though we are not given more information about what different views there are in the wizarding world about the morality of using Legilimency (or Veritaserum) by force, I think there are probably witches and wizards will all sorts of different views about it, just like there are people in our own world with different views on various things. I think the fact that it's not used in trials might have just as much to do with the ethical concerns as with its fallibility. I mean, there may be people who would advocate using it even if it's not 100% reliable (using the argument that it may be of use sometimes) but maybe others believe it is not justified.
Thanks for writing!
I think that because the wizarding world has been isolated from the muggle world for such a long time a wizard's ethics would certainly be different from a muggle's. Also, perhaps when you master legilimency it isn't easy to contain it. For example, if you are looking at a sign and this sign has words on it and you have the ability to read those words then it is hard not to see the words and know what they mean. Before you learn to read, words are just these things composed of a bunch of symbols that have no meaning. Before you learn legilimency somebody's eyes don't carry any hidden messages but after learning legilimency I believe it becomes a lot easier to see what another person is generally thinking just by looking. You might not see specifics but by just looking into another's eyes you may be able to understand how they are feeling.
Author's Response: Good point, I agree with you on the difficulties involved in not using legilimency when you know how to. However, I'm not so sure about a wizard's ethics being different from a normal muggle. What we are talking about here is our basic senses of right and wrong, and while these may be formed by society up to a point, I think a lot of personal instinct and choice is involved. Also, wizarding and muggle society are quite close in some respects, partially because of the presence of muggleborns who continually bring in new ideas. Both communities look down upon things like murder or cheating, so why would it be different for legilimency?
Great post! Well reasoned.
I always thought that, with regard to the times when Harry thought Snape or Dumbledore was reading his mind, that they were only looking at what he was currently thinking about. Reading someone's current thoughts would not appear to involve flipping through old memories, so may not give the appearance of the legilimency Snape uses in OOTP. Harry has shown to be sensitive to the probing, which might be why we see him noting that he has the "feeling" they're reading his mind.
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