Podcast #30: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 13

 Posted by on 26 February 2010 at 10:00 am  Podcasts
Feb 262010

For Friday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a preview of my podcast and study questions for “Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 13.”

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 13 of Explore Atlas Shrugged covers:

  • Part 3: Chapter 2: The Utopia of Greed

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 3: Chapter 2: The Utopia of Greed

Section 1 (752-761)

As Dagny Taggart begins her second day in the valley, John Galt departs from his home on business, and Ragnar Danneskjöld stops by. After John returns, Dagny breakfasts with them, substituting for the absent Francisco d’Anconia. John hires Dagny as his maid and cook.

Core Questions

  • Why does John not want to hear what Ragnar has to say about Hank Rearden now? (756-7)
  • What lesson does Ragnar seek to teach the world by his piracy? Given the risks, is he sacrificing himself for the cause? Why do the other strikers disapprove? Who is right? (757-8)
  • Why does Dagny want to earn her keep as John’s cook and maid? What does the work – and the wages in gold – mean to her? (760-1)

Extra Questions

  • How does Dagny feel upon waking and then cooking breakfast? How is that a change for her? (752-3)
  • What does Ragnar mean when he says that Dagny is the only woman with “the courage and the prodigality to remain a scab” in the valley? Is he right? (754)
  • Why is the outside world – not the valley – a “prehistorical mirage”? (754)
  • What does Dagny notice about the greeting between John and Ragnar? (754)
  • How does Dagny react upon learning that the visitor is Ragnar Danneskjöld? Why? Why does her attitude endanger her status as a scab? (755)
  • Why does Dagny refuse John’s help in the kitchen? Is it really true that the valley is “the place where one does not ask for help”? (755)
  • What is Ragnar’s attitude toward the physical risks involved in his piracy? Is that unusual? What are the attitudes of John, Dagny, Kay Ludlow, and the others toward those risks? (755, 759)
  • Why will Ragnar only compensate Dagny for her income taxes, but not for profits earned from Taggart Transcontinental stock? (758)
  • Why is Dagny surprised to learn of Ragnar’s marriage? What does that marriage reveal about the strikers? (758-9)
  • Why is Dagny appalled at the thought of accepting the money that Ragnar has collected by his piracy? Should she accept it? (759)
  • Does John have the right to require Dagny to stay in the valley for a month? Why does he want her to do so? (759-60)

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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