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Since there are already several other questions about Harry and Voldemort's soul, I checked to see if this was answered elsewhere. Didn't find it, so here goes.

The fragments of Voldemort's soul seem to have self-awareness because several try to manipulate/influence people around them.

  • The diary influenced/possessed Ginny Weasley. It made her open the Chamber of Secrets, write nasty messages on the walls, and release a monster on children. It takes a lot of planning to do all that, the kind of planning that sentient beings can do, not a semi-sentient artifact such as a magical painting.
  • The locket tried to manipulate and confuse Ronald Weasley right before he destroyed it. The locket also tried to strangle its wearer.
  • The snake is self-aware anyway, but I am discussing whether the soul fragment inside it is self-aware too. The soul fragment inside the snake influences Harry to get him to retrieve a prophecy globe from the Ministry of Magic.
  • Not sure if other horcruxes (ring, diadem, and cup) are self-aware because I can't recall if any of those horcruxes tried to influence people. If you can think of specific incidents from the book, please post them.
  • Harry is not an official horcrux, but he does have a fragment of Voldemort's soul. This fragment does not seem as self-aware because it is not manipulating Harry the way other fragments manipulated Ron or Ginny. (e.g. - It didn't possess Harry into making him do things unconsciously the way the diary manipulated Ginny into unconsciously opening the Chamber of Secrets. If it could/did manipulate Harry that way, it could make him seem like a very evil wizard.)

If we score them yes or no based on whether we have evidence of their self-awareness, I would score them this way.

  • Diary? Yes.
  • Locket? Yes.
  • Snake? Yes.
  • Ring? Unknown.
  • Diadem? Unknown.
  • Cup? Unknown.
  • Harry? No.

Since the score is mixed, I am curious if soul fragments inside horcruxes are self-aware.

I'll accept answers based on the books, movies, or comments from the author.

  • 3
    Hmm, Marvolo's Ring did give Dumbledore a shortened lifespan. – Mat Cauthon May 20 '17 at 2:44
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    I don't think we have more info than what you have included in the question. – Baby Yoda May 20 '17 at 3:43
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    @Voronwë The ring shortened his life only because it was cursed. That's separate from it being a horcrux. Kind of like saying how the trauma of being in a horrific car accident may give you a heart attack, and the heart attack shortens your life many months later, but it is still incidental to the original car accident. – RichS May 20 '17 at 4:14
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    @Voronwë I edited the question to show the ambiguity of some soul fragments being sentient, some unknown, and that one does not seem self-aware. That should clarify it. :-) – RichS May 20 '17 at 5:01
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    Does a horcrux need to manipulate someone to be considered self-aware? Harry thought he heard the diadem scream when it died. – Gaultheria May 20 '17 at 7:44
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How self-aware are the soul fragments inside horcruxes? Pretty darned self-aware, I'd say, since they are able to hold meaningful conversations; see the Wikipedia article on the Turing test.

It is true that certain magical objects, such as paintings, are also able to converse, but generally only in a fairly limited way. I do not believe a painting would have been able to hold Ginny's attention over a long period in the way that the Diary did, and Dumbledore said much the same thing:

"A mere memory starting to act and think for itself? A mere memory, sapping the life out of the girl into whose hands it had fallen? No, something much more sinister had lived inside that book ... a fragment of soul, I was almost sure of it."

It seems clear from this that the difference between a semi-sentient magical object such as a painting and a truly self-aware magical object such as the Diary is the presence of a soul-fragment.

We do have some additional evidence; the fact that Harry was able to talk to Dumbledore in King's Cross, and to his parents with the aid of the Resurrection Stone, strongly suggests that in the Potterverse true intelligence really is a property of the soul rather than the body. (See footnote.) The existence of ghosts also establishes that a body is not necessary for self-awareness.

If, therefore, it is the soul that makes a person self-aware, then there is no reason to think that the soul fragment inside a Horcrux is inherently any different in this respect. Obviously, the Diary was the only of Voldemort's Horcruxes that demonstrated self-awareness over a long period, but the Locket was also able to speak once it had been opened, and given the opportunity the other three conventional Horcruxes would surely have done the same.

(In fact, it is entirely possible that the Ring did speak to Dumbledore, and that the Cup spoke to Ron and Hermione, since neither event was narrated; the Diadem was killed at a distance by Fiendfyre, so it had no such opportunity. Nagini was taken by surprise.)

The soul-fragment in Harry was a special case. It was neither protected nor strengthened by the usual spells used upon a Horcrux; it was not created intentionally, but as a result of Voldemort's backfiring Avada Kedavra spell; and, of course, it was contained within a person with a soul of his own. It would still be potentially self-aware, like any other soul-stuff, but it seems likely that it was never strong enough to be able to gain consciousness.


Footnote: I am assuming here that the Resurrection Stone is genuine, but I believe this is accepted canon. At any rate, there was no magical object involved in Harry's conversation with Dumbledore, so that at least cannot have been deliberately faked.

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