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I'm trying to read "Harry Potter and Methods of Rationality" (Chapter 25), and I'm puzzled with the following phrase:

And furthermore, Harry said, his voice emphatic and his right hand thumping hard on the floor, you did not start out immediately looking for solutions.

I wonder if here "did not" can be used instead of "should not" as it seems, that Harry can't read minds; it seems he is giving directions. So can "did not" here be understood as "should not"?

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    Actually it seems that he is referring to what they DID in the past - i.e. neither reading minds or giving directions. I say this because it's like he's giving a post-mortem on something they did wrong because then he launches into his speech about the psychologist. – d'alar'cop Feb 10 '14 at 6:31
  • @d'alar'cop The speech about the psychologist concludes, that it's better to discuss the problem and do not look for the solutions. So "did not start out ..." was right thing to do, and if they "started ...", that would be wrong. – fiktor Feb 10 '14 at 13:46
  • In that case he was relieved or glad or simply reporting that they did the right thing and supported it with an anecdote. Either way, it seems clear enough that he is referring to what they did in the past. Or it could also be sloppy writing (losing track of the plot). – d'alar'cop Feb 10 '14 at 13:48
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It seems that Harry is referring to what they DID in the past - i.e. neither reading minds nor giving directions.

It's like he's giving a post-mortem on something they did wrong. It seems this way because he then launches into his speech about the psychologist as though the knowledge that could be gained from his anecdote would've implied a better course of action.

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    Indeed, there's an implication that they should have done so, the very opposite of using it instead of did not, if we take should in the sense of obligation. – Jon Hanna Feb 10 '14 at 9:40
  • @JonHanna Precisely my sentiments. – d'alar'cop Feb 10 '14 at 9:58
  • @d'alar'cop Wait a moment, the speech about psychologist concludes, that "Starting out by looking for solutions was taking things entirely out of order. Like starting a meal with dessert, only bad." That is, it concludes that they should not start out immediately looking for the solutions. – fiktor Feb 10 '14 at 13:50
  • @fiktor Yes, this could also mean that his "did not" refers to the immediately past - "just a few moments ago". – d'alar'cop Feb 10 '14 at 14:03

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