[possible spoilers in the question]

This question Why didn't any Death Eaters come back as ghosts had a couple of answers that rely upon the same quote:

Having chosen a feeble simulacrum of mortal life, ghosts are limited in what they can experience. No physical pleasure remains to them, and their knowledge and outlook remains at the level it had attained during life, so that old resentments (for instance, at having an incompletely severed neck) continue to rankle after several centuries. Pottermore – Ghosts [emphasis added]

One could certainly envision ghosts who essentially repeat the same information ad nauseam. Frozen knowledge would, I should think imply that a ghost is unable to acquire new information.

Yet we know that in Goblet of Fire

Harry procrastinated on examining his "egg". After a hint, he utilized the luxurious bath on the advice of Cedric Diggory. Even then it took input from Myrtle for Harry to solve the riddle.

Myrtle was able to assist Harry based upon her prior observations. Thus, Myrtle had to have acquired new knowledge.

How can knowledge be "fixed", yet the ghosts clearly demonstrate learning? In a different example, the ghosts also learn new students' names, or know about submitting requests (and the subsequent rejection) to join a headless hunt society.

I hope this question is not too opinion focused. It is the answers to the previous question that raised my curiosity.

  • 15
    It's a good question and hard to answer. But I think ultimately the answer is basically you're taking it a bit too far. I mean, clearly Nearly Headless Neck is able to have ongoing interactions with the trio and stuff, relay information about things like Peeves and the Sorting Hat. I think what the Pottermore entry is trying to say is that they remain very much of their time, and don't really move on and develop their personality, they just remain stuck more-or-less as they were when they died. But as you clearly know, they can remember events in their day-to-day existence
    – Au101
    Jun 15, 2017 at 2:40
  • 1
    Yeah, they don't act like the dude in Memento, unable to form new memories.
    – tobiasvl
    Jun 15, 2017 at 8:03
  • Information and knowledge aren't the same thing. Arguably. Jun 16, 2017 at 0:42
  • 1
    I think Pottermore poorly explains what was meant to be a simple concept; that being that they cannot grow as Ghosts -- a person, living a few hundred years, would be expected to grown in an emotional / intellectual / maturity sense -- a Ghost may learn new bits of data, but their personality and nature does not change. Think of a Terminator with the Learning chip toggled to off :)
    – K-H-W
    Jun 16, 2017 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


Taken literally

and their knowledge and outlook remains at the level it had attained during life

Pottermore is clearly contradicting the books multiple times, as we have seen all of the ghosts actively converse, remember conversations, and share information they have gained after death.

However, I believe the intent of this line is to show that ghosts personalities, comprehension, wisdom, and mental capacity lock in at the point of death. We see Myrtle is still an annoying teenage girl, even though shes now been a ghost for over 50 years.

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