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 whole of Explore Atlas Shrugged – meaning, all 20 sessions of podcasts and study questions – can be purchased for just $20. 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:

  • Duration: 19:00 (Preview) / 1:16:38 (Full Podcast)
  • Download Preview: Standard MP3 File (6.5 MB)

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)

Summary: 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 her 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 and how is the outside world – not the valley – a “prehistorical mirage”? (754)
  • Why does Dagny take such pleasure when she serves John Galt breakfast and keeps his house? (755, 753)
  • What is Ragnar’s attitude toward the physical risks involved in his piracy? Is that unusual? What is the attitude of John, Dagny, Kay Ludlow, and the others toward those risks? (755-9, 754)
  • Why is Dagny so surprised to learn of Ragnar’s marriage? What does that marriage reveal about the strikers? (758-9)
  • Why is Dagny so appalled at the thought of accepting the money that Ragnar has collected by his piracy? Should she accept it? (759)
  • Does Galt have the right to require Dagny to stay in the valley? Why does he want her to do so? (759-60)

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 Hsieh. 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.

Purchase Explore Atlas Shrugged

Access to the whole of Explore Atlas Shrugged costs just $20. You can pay online via Dwolla or PayPal. Or you can send a check or money order via the US Mail, including with your bank’s bill pay service. If you want to pay by some other method, choose “Other” below and explain in the comments. I recommend using Dwolla: it’s a payment system with lower fees, stronger security, and better interface design than PayPal. A Dwolla account is free and easy to create.

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 any participants in your online or in-person Atlas Shrugged reading group. Notably, (3) do not ever post the podcasts or study questions in any public forum.

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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.

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