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)


Atlas Shrugged

  • Q&A: Enjoying Atlas Shrugged: 19 Jul 2015, Question 2
  • Question: How can I be less annoyed with Atlas Shrugged? I love Ayn Rand's ideas, and I thoroughly enjoy her non-fiction. I want to enjoy Atlas Shrugged and her other fiction more, but I'm often annoyed with the aesthetics of her work. I acknowledge the fact that the novels are great, but every time I see mention of Francisco's mocking smile or John Galt's mocking eyes or Hank Rearden's mocking laugh or John Galt's implacable voice or New York City's implacable skyline or Dagny Taggart's silent terror, I just want to pull my hair out. I find myself wanting to throw the book at the wall every time she uses those words! I understand that loving her novels is not a prerequisite for applying her philosophy, but I really desire to experience the joy that many other people feel while reading her work. How can I get more enjoyment out of it?

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Literature, Objectivism, Philosophy, Style, Values

  • Q&A: John Galt's Motor: 24 May 2015, Question 2
  • Question: Was John Galt evil, wrong, or a jerk for not commercializing his motor? In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt went on strike when the world seemed only a little worse off than today politically in America. Things got really bad so fast because Galt dismantled everything. If, instead of going on strike, he had quit the Twentieth Century Motor Company and started the Galt Motor Company, things seem like they would have gone a very different way. By my reading, Galt's motor was pretty much a free energy miracle – for the same price as a car engine a car could need no fuel and be nearly maintenance free. Electricity would be too cheap to meter and probably within a decade the Galt Motor Company would provide the engines for every plane, train, automobile, and power plant in America. The resulting economic boom from ultra-cheap energy would have probably improved conditions – there'd be fewer calls for controls because everything would be going so swimmingly. Galt could have gone into the other countries and demanded they liberalize their economies if they wanted him to electrify their countries. His wealth and influence would let him meet with titans of industry and convince them of his morality. He could invest in Hollywood and make movies and TV shows that showed his views. He could have met Dagny and fallen in love with her, and I'm sure over months of dating she would have come around to realize that his morality was right. Her resistance was, after all, to the strike, not really the idea that we should be selfish. People seem to get more panicky and politicians more lusting after power when the economy is doing poorly. In huge booms things seem to get better. People who are well off don't cry out for a savior and accept whatever anyone tells them will make things better, because things are going pretty well. If Galt probably could have gotten rich, liberalized the economies of the world, married Dagny, and sparked a moral revolution all without dismantling civilization, shouldn't he have? If his motor really could save everyone (and it seems like it could have), he is at least kind of a jerk to not commercialize it – and probably self-destructive too. So why go on strike at all?

    Tags: Activism, Altruism, Atlas Shrugged, Business, Death Premise, Duty Ethics, Economics, Ethics, Ethics, Law, Literature, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics, Responsibility

  • Q&A: Introducing Children to Objectivism: 10 Aug 2014, Question 3
  • Question: How should I introduce my teenagers to Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism? I'd like to introduce my teenagers to Ayn Rand's novels, as well as to the principles of her philosophy of Objectivism. How should I do that? My concern is that I'll bungle it up and bore them to death or succeed too well and convert them into Objectivist jerks for the next ten years. What's a rational approach for parents?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Children, Education, Epistemology, Ethics, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Parenting, Philosophy, Politics

  • Q&A: The Purpose of Atlas Shrugged: 6 Jul 2014, Question 2
  • Question: Was Atlas Shrugged written to save America? Recently, I ran across this comment on the internet: ""Saving America wasn't the point of Atlas Shrugged, that's not the happily ever after it proposes in the end. It chronicles the main characters getting over that misguided mission and why." Two questions come to mind: (1) What was Ayn Rand's purpose in writing Atlas Shrugged? And (2) Do you think that being inspired to "save America" after reading Atlas Shrugged is misguided?

    Tags: Activism, Art, Atlas Shrugged, Free Society, Literature, Politics

  • Q&A: The Problem of Overwork: 13 Apr 2014, Question 3
  • Question: Does the example set by Ayn Rand's heroes encourage overwork? The heroes of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead seem to have a nearly unlimited well of energy. They work long hours, and they don't have many interests outside work. However, isn't that dangerous? Does this approach to work risk exhaustion and burnout? More generally, what's the rational approach to balancing work and self-care?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Business, Ethics, Life, Literature, Productiveness, The Fountainhead, Values

  • Q&A: Jealousy over Love Lost: 7 Jul 2013, Question 2
  • Question: Was Francisco's lack of jealousy in Atlas Shrugged rational or realistic? In Part 3, Chapter 2 of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Francisco tells Dagny, "...No matter what you feel for [Hank Rearden], it will not change what you feel for me, and it won't be treason to either, because it comes from the same root, it's the same payment in answer to the same values..." Is that a rational and realistic response? Given their love for Dagny, shouldn't Francisco and Hank have been more disappointed in their loss of Dagny to John Galt, and perhaps even jealous of him? Is a person wrong to feel bitter disappointment or jealousy over a lost love?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Conflict, Emotions, Ethics, Friendship, Jealousy, Romance, Virtue

  • Interview: Jason Crawford on Free Objectivist Books for Students: 29 May 2013
  • Summary: The Free Objectivist Books for Students web site aims to help more students read Ayn Rand. It does that by enabling donors to send books by Ayn Rand or about her philosophy of Objectivism to students eager to read them. Jason Crawford explained how the project works – including the unusual way it connects donors and recipients – and why he thinks students should read Ayn Rand.

    Tags: Activism, Atlas Shrugged, Education, Objectivism, Young Adults

  • Q&A: Being Someone's Extramarital Affair: 24 Mar 2013, Question 1
  • Question: Is it wrong to have a romantic relationship with a married person? In Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged, Dagny Taggart had an affair with Hank Rearden, knowing that he was married. How should those actions be judged in real life? Clearly, Hank's cheating was dishonest and wrong. Was Dagny wrong to pursue the affair? What should she have done instead? Or, imagine that Dagny didn't know that Hank was married until after they'd slept together. What should she have done in that case upon finding out the truth? Should she stop the affair? Should she inform the wife about the cheating? Should she apologize to the wife? Also, if your answer is different than Dagny's, how do you reconcile that?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Character, Honesty, Infidelity, Integrity, Moral Wrongs, Relationships, Romance, Sex

  • Interview: Chris Mortensen on Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged: 20 Feb 2013
  • Summary: Chris Mortenson directed the excellent documentary, Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged. How did that project get started? What was required to make it a reality? How was it received? What's next?

    If you haven't yet seen the documentary... don't delay! It's available on NetFlix (streaming and DVD) and Amazon (streaming and DVD). If you enjoy the documentary, be sure to pick up the new book with the full text of the interviews, including much material that wasn't included in the documentary. That's available in paperback or for kindle.

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Film, Literature, Objectivism

  • Q&A: Being Like Hank Rearden: 14 Oct 2012, Question 4
  • Question: Should I try to be more like Hank Rearden? After reading Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged," I've come to an important conclusion: I want to be more like Hank Rearden. What tips would you offer to someone desiring to be so awesome?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Character, Ethics, Independence, Personality, Personal Values, Psychology, Values

  • Q&A: The Depth of Ayn Rand's Fictional Characters: 4 Mar 2012, Question 4
  • Question: Are the characters in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged flat due to philosophic consistency? I'm reading the novel currently, and rather enjoying it. However, I've heard many people claim her characters are flat, one-dimensional, etc. I usually respond to this by saying that Ayn Rand's characters are the incarnation of her ideas, the physical embodiment of her ideas: an individual is consumed with this philosophy, so much so that they are entirely logically consistent (or at least as much as humanly possible, they are human, and do make mistakes, e.g. Rearden's marriage), thus, because of their abnormally extensive logical consistency within their philosophy, these characters merely appear to be 'one-dimensional'. Is this an accurate understanding of Rand's characters?

    Tags: Aesthetics, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Literature, The Fountainhead

  • Q&A: Real Life Evil: 3 Jul 2011, Question 3
  • Question: Are people in real life as evil as in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged? In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand presents almost every bad person as very evil. I understand the purpose of that in the novel, but are their equivalents in real life (meaning the legislators passing similar laws nowadays) as evil as that – or are some of them just misguided or even stupid? In other words, do real-life people act on the death premise and hate the good for being the good? I just can't imagine that. Am I being too optimistic?

    Tags: Activism, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Ethics, Evil, Judgment, Justice, Objectivism, Sanction

  • Q&A: Francisco's Slap of Dagny: 29 May 2011, Question 3
  • Question: Was Francisco justified in slapping Dagny? In their teenage years, when Dagny asked Francisco whether she should try to get D's in order to gain popularity in school, Francisco slapped her. I understand what he meant by the "unspeakable" thing that she said. But couldn't have he talked it over with her instead of slapping her – and shouldn't he have done so? Why does he use physical violence – and why does Dagny not just accept but relish in it?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Ethics, Literature, Relationships, Rights, Romance

  • Q&A: Review of the Movie Atlas Shrugged, Part 1: 17 Apr 2011, Question 1
  • Question: What did you think of the movie Atlas Shrugged, Part 1?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Film

  • Podcast: Atlas Shrugged at Liberty on the Rocks: 14 Apr 2011
  • Summary: On Wednesday, April 6th, 2011, I spoke at Liberty on the Rocks in Denver about the deeper themes of Atlas Shrugged, using the example of Robert Stadler. Also included is a summary of Objectivism from the Q&A, as well as a trivia contest.

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism

  • Q&A: Recommending the Upcoming Atlas Shrugged Movie: 20 Mar 2011, Question 5
  • Question: Assuming the Atlas Shrugged movie turns out to be decent, would it be immoral to recommend it to others since the movie is backed by a trustee of The Atlas Society?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Film, Sanction

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 20: 9 Oct 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapters 9 and 10 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 19: 16 Sep 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapter 8 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Sessions 17 and 18: 4 Jun 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapter 7 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 16: 24 May 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapters 5B and 6 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 15: 30 Apr 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapters 4 and 5A of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 14: 16 Apr 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapter 3 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 13: 26 Feb 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapter 2 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 12: 19 Feb 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapter 1 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 11: 15 Feb 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 2: Chapters 9 and 10 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 10: 2 Feb 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 2: Chapters 7 and 8 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 9: 25 Jan 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 2: Chapters 5 and 6 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 8: 13 Jan 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 2: Chapters 3B and 4 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 7: 7 Dec 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 2: Chapters 2 and 3A of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 6: 16 Nov 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 1: Chapter 10B and Part 2: Chapter 1 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 5: 9 Nov 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 1: Chapters 9 and 10A of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 4: 26 Oct 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 1: Chapters 7B and 8 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 3: 19 Oct 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 1: Chapters 6 and 7A of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 2: 12 Oct 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 1: Chapters 4 and 5 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 1: 5 Oct 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 1: Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

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

  • Podcast: The Launch: 1 Sep 2009
  • Summary: I introduce myself, discuss the new Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups sponsored by Front Range Objectivism, and offer my advice on an ethical question about a no-show at a wedding.

    Tags: Activism, Atlas Shrugged, Boundaries, Communication, Egoism, Ethics, Literature, Moral Wrongs, Objectivism, Wedding


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