Friends and Fans — I have retired from my work as a public intellectual, so Philosophy in Action is on indefinite hiatus. Please check out the voluminous archive of free podcasts, as well as the premium audio content still available for sale. My two books — Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame and Explore Atlas Shrugged — are available for purchase too. Best wishes! — Diana Brickell (Hsieh)

Preview of Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 11

15 February 2010

Do you want to better understand and appreciate Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged? Look no further! Explore Atlas Shrugged will help you gain fresh insights into the complex events, characters, and ideas of this epic novel – whether you've read it just once or a dozen times before.

The podcast and study questions below are a preview of Session 11. You can purchase access to the whole of Explore Atlas Shrugged – meaning, over 22 hours of podcasts, 1400 study questions, and other resources – for just $20 using the form below. The written materials in the course are also available from Amazon in paperback and kindle formats, and purchasers of those editions just pay $10 for access to the podcasts.

For more information, including previews of other sessions, visit Explore Atlas Shrugged.

The Reading

Session 11 of Explore Atlas Shrugged covers:

  • Part 2: Chapter 9: The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt
  • Part 2: Chapter 10: Sign of the Dollar

Preview the Podcast

Listen to the podcast preview of Session 11 of Explore Atlas Shrugged now – or download it:

  • Preview Duration: 33:51 (Full Podcast: 1:19:51)
  • Download Preview: Standard MP3 File (11.6 MB)

Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

Preview the Study Questions

The page numbers found in parentheses in these questions refer to the hardcover, softcover, and kindle editions of Atlas Shrugged, not the small mass market paperback. Due to this pagination difference, I don't recommend using the mass market paperback.

Part 2: Chapter 9: The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt

Section 1 (633-648)

Francisco d'Anconia speaks to Dagny Taggart in her apartment after her first day back at work at Taggart Transcontinental. Hank Rearden enters using his key, and an explosive confrontation between Hank and Francisco ensues. After Francisco departs, Dagny and Hank have violent sex. A letter arrives from Quentin Daniels announcing that he has quit his work on the motor.

Core Questions

  • What is Dagny's state of mind when she returns to work after the tunnel disaster? How and why has her attitude toward her work changed? (633-4)
  • What are the major points of agreement and disagreement between Dagny and Francisco, particularly regarding "the man of ability"? What factors influence each's reasoning and decision? Should Dagny accept Francisco's views? Why or why not? (635-7)
  • How does Francisco learn that Hank is Dagny's current lover? What does that revelation mean to Francisco – and why? (638-9)
  • What does Hank think of and feel for Francisco now? Why? How does Francisco respond – and why? (638-40)
  • Why does Hank slap Francisco? What is Francisco's reaction to that? What does Hank learn and feel afterwards? (640-1)
  • Why does Dagny tell Hank that Francisco was her first lover? What is Hank's reaction – and why? How and why is their sex afterwards so violent? How is Hank different afterwards? (641-3)
  • Why has Quentin Daniels quit? Is he right or wrong to do so? What does Dagny want him to do instead – and why? (644-5)

Extra Questions

  • How is Dagny's attitude toward and relationship with Francisco changed by her knowledge that his goal is to destroy d'Anconia Copper? (634-8)
  • What is Francisco's purpose when he speaks to Dagny at the cabin? What is Dagny's response to that purpose? (634-5)
  • What is Francisco's response to Dagny's settled decision to continue working at Taggart Transcontinental? What does that reveal about his values? What might he do instead? Would that be better or worse? (635, 637)
  • Why does Dagny think that she might need to beg Francisco's forgiveness at some point in the future? Why is she committed to her present course despite that? What does that reveal about her values? (636)
  • What does Francisco mean when he warns Dagny that they are enemies? What are the practical implications of that? Is he right? (636-7)
  • How does Dagny learn that Francisco is not acting alone? What is the significance of that to her? (637)
  • What does Francisco mean when he says that he will always wait for Dagny? Should he do so? (637-8)
  • What does Dagny think, feel, and say in response to the confrontation between Hank and Francisco? Why? (638-41)
  • Why does Hank suspect that Francisco intends to double-cross Dagny? Is that a fair accusation? (638)
  • Why does Hank say that Francisco is "worse than the looters"? Given what Hank knows of Francisco, is that fair? (640)
  • Why does Dagny think that Francisco's restrained response to Hank's slap is Francisco's "greatest achievement"? (640-1)
  • Why does Dagny feel pity for both men after Francisco departs? (641)
  • Why does Hank feel that sex with Dagny is "the act of victory over his rival and of surrender to him"? (642)
  • Why does Dagny want Hank more than ever in their sexual encounter? What does it mean to her? (642-3)
  • What is Hank's attitude toward Dagny and Francisco after sex with Dagny? Why? Why does Dagny think that everything has been said but just remains to be acknowledged? (643)
  • Why didn't Francisco ever tell Hank about his affair with Dagny? What does Hank learn from that? (643)
  • What does Quentin Daniels represent in the earlier debate between Dagny and Francisco about her choice to return to work at Taggart Transcontinental? How do Daniels' own views shed light on that debate? (644-5, 635-7)
  • What does Dagny convince Daniels to do once she speaks to him on the telephone? Why is that so important to her? (646-7)
  • What does Dagny's departure to Utah reveal about her priorities? (647-8)
  • What does Hank want to tell Dagny as she departs? Why doesn't he? (648)

About Explore Atlas Shrugged

Do you want to better understand and appreciate Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged?

Explore Atlas Shrugged is an in-depth course consisting of a podcast series, study questions, and other resources by philosopher Dr. Diana Brickell. The course breaks Atlas Shrugged into 20 manageable sessions, each covering about 65 pages of the novel.

Explore Atlas Shrugged will inspire fresh insights into the complex events, characters, and ideas of Ayn Rand's epic novel, whether you've read it just once or a dozen times before.

Check out the previews, then purchase access to the whole of Explore Atlas Shrugged for just $20. The written materials of Explore Atlas Shrugged are also 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, study questions, or login credentials in any public forum.

Item: Course: Explore Atlas Shrugged ($20)

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 the Author

I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.

From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.

You can listen to these 362 podcasts by subscribing to the Podcast RSS Feed. You can also peruse the podcast archive, where episodes and questions are sorted by date and by topic.

My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.

You can also read my blog NoodleFood and subscribe to its Blog RSS Feed.

I can be reached via e-mail to [email protected].

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