Podcast #14: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 2

 Posted by on 13 October 2009 at 2:00 am  Podcasts
Oct 132009

For Monday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a preview of my podcast and study questions for “Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 2.”

The online version of Explore Atlas Shrugged – meaning, all 20 sessions of podcasts and study questions, plus other resources – can be purchased for just $20. The written materials are also available from Amazon in paperback and kindle formats, and purchasers of those editions pay just $10 for access to the podcasts. For more information, including previews of other sessions, visit Explore Atlas Shrugged.

Session 2 of Explore Atlas Shrugged covers:

  • Part 1: Chapter 4: The Immovable Movers
  • Part 1: Chapter 5: The Climax of the d’Anconias

Preview the Podcast

Listen or Download:

Preview the Study Questions

Note: The pagination of the hardcover, softcover, and kindle editions differs from that of the small mass market paperback. The study questions cite only the pagination from the larger editions. I don’t recommend using the mass market paperback.

Part 1: Chapter 4: Immovable Movers

Section 1 (64-69)

On his return from an unsatisfying meeting with United Locomotive Works, Eddie Willers informs Dagny Taggart of Dick McNamara’s sudden retirement. That evening, Dagny walks through the streets of New York City, seeking greatness but finding only degradation. She returns home to listen to the music of Richard Halley, reflecting on the story of his struggle, success, and disappearance. In the newspaper, she reads that Francisco d’Anconia has returned to the city.

Core Questions

  • Why does Dagny seek to be a passive spectator of greatness? Why is that so important to her? What does she find instead? (65-6)
  • What is the story of composer Richard Halley? Why is that significant? What does Dagny experience through his music? (67-8)

Extra Questions

  • Why is motive power so important to Taggart Transcontinental? Why is movement needed to keep the Taggart Building immovable? (64)
  • Why is Dagny so angered by the sight of the machinery rotted due to neglect? What does that mean to her? (64)
  • How and why is McNamara’s retirement significant to Dagny and Eddie? Does it matter to them beyond merely the building of the Rio Norte Line? (64-5)
  • What are the common themes in the art (and the people) that Dagny sees on the streets? How does that contrast with the music of Richard Halley? (66-8)
  • What is the news about Francisco d’Anconia? How does Dagny react to it? (69)

Section 2 (70-72)

Jim Taggart and Betty Pope arise in mutual contempt after a night together. Jim receives a phone call informing him that the Mexican government has nationalized the San Sebastián Mines and Line.

Core Questions

  • How do Jim and Betty feel about and treat each other? What does that reveal about their characters and values? (70-2)
  • How does Jim plan to make Dagny “a little easier to manage”? How and why does his mood change upon thinking about that? (71-2)

Extra Questions

  • Why does Betty think that Dagny is unfeminine? Is she right or wrong? (71)
  • Given the news about the nationalization of the San Sebastián Mines and Line, will Jim be able to put his plan for Dagny into action? (71-2)
  • Is the news from Mexico truly “a bolt out of the blue”? Why does the caller use that excuse? (72)

Section 3 (72)

Jim Taggart speaks to the board of Taggart Transcontinental, reassuring them about the nationalization of the San Sebastián Line.

Core Question

  • How and why does Jim spin the nationalization of the San Sebastián Line to the board? Why do they accept it? (72)

Extra Question

  • Will Taggart Transcontinental receive “full and just compensation” for the San Sebastián Line as Jim claims? Why or why not? Do they deserve it? (72)

About Explore Atlas Shrugged

Explore Atlas Shrugged is a series of 20 sessions of podcasts and study questions by me, philosopher Dr. Diana Hsieh. Each session covers about 65 pages of the novel, organized chapter-by-chapter and section-by-section. The podcasts are an in-depth look at the events, characters, and ideas from that portion of the novel. The whole series contains over 22 hours of lively and engaging discussion in podcast form. The study questions will help you better understand the novel on your own – or help you lead an engaging reading group. The series includes over 1400 questions, organized into “core” and “extra” categories.

You can preview the full series of podcasts and questions, as well as purchase access for just $20, here: Explore Atlas Shrugged. You can also purchase the series below.

Also, the written materials are available from Amazon in paperback and kindle formats, and purchasers of those editions pay just $10 for access to the podcasts.

Purchase Explore Atlas Shrugged

Access to the online version of Explore Atlas Shrugged costs just $20. It’s half off – just $10 – for purchasers of the paperback and kindle editions of the book version. Also, if you contribute to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar via recurring weekly or monthly contributions (or the equivalent), please email me for free access.

Terms of Sale: (1) You may share the podcasts with members of your household, but not beyond that. (2) You may share the study questions with members of your household, as well as with participants in your online or in-person Atlas Shrugged Reading Group. (3) Do not ever post the podcasts or study questions in any public forum.

Items: Course: Explore Atlas Shrugged ($20)
Course: Explore Atlas Shrugged (Half Price Discount) ($10)
Note: This half-price discount is only available to purchasers of a paperback or kindle edition of Explore Atlas Shrugged. Please email me a screenshot or picture as proof.

Praise for Explore Atlas Shrugged

The response to Explore Atlas Shrugged has been overwhelmingly positive, including the following remarks:

I require students to read Atlas Shrugged in my introductory economics class. Dr. Hsieh’s Explore Atlas Shrugged podcasts were an essential tool to help communicate the novel’s lesson and hold effective class discussion. Do not attempt to teach the book without consulting the podcasts first!

— Bailey Norwood, Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University


Thank you, thank you, thank you, Diana – our GLO Atlas Reading Group is going so very well. We have about 12-13 people attending, and it is truly the most fun we’ve had in a long time. So much rewarding fun comes out of your ideas and organization. Can’t thank you enough for your efforts!!!


I just wanted to send you a quick note and thank you for your efforts on Explore Atlas Shrugged. As part of the Charm City Objectivists Society we used your questions and podcast to help kick off our reading group yesterday for session one. We had epiphanies all around the table from someone who is a firm student of Objectivism to a person who had read Atlas Shrugged but is new to Objectivism. I know that neither Ray (our moderator) or myself could have undertaken this kind of thing without the wonderful resource you have created. You have helped me make a difference in my community and I thank you for it.


The other day, I began listening to your Explore Atlas Shrugged podcasts. I have read and listened to the book several times, but it has been admittedly too long since the last time. Although I can not adequately express how much experiencing your podcasts has meant to me and the extent to which they have reinvigorated me, I did want to thank you…Thank you.

About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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