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Atlas Shrugged Quotations and Analysis

“But what can you do when you have to deal with people?”

This question is repeated in the book. The above is from Dr. Stadler in Part One, Chapter VII. It stems from his belief that most people are not really capable of rational thought. They are basically irrational and must be dealt with manipulative and at time repressive means.

This is one of the reasons Stadler supported the creation of the State Science Institute. This was motivated by the belief that the government needs a way of exerting brute force to keep people in line. The line is quoted later in the novel to justify the use of mass violence to keep order.

“Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”

In Part One, Chapter VII Francisco says this to Dagny as he questions him about being a reckless playboy. She asks how he can be such a paradox by having such talent and intelligence but also squander himself on a pointless life-style. In saying this, Francisco actually offers her clue to his real activities. He reveals that she is not getting at least one of her assumptions correct.

“John Galt is Prometheus who changed his mind. After centuries of being torn by vultures in payment for having brought to men the fire of the gods, he broke his chains—and he withdrew his fire—until the day when men withdraw their vultures.”

Francisco and Dagny find the words “Who is John Galt” scratched into a table at a restaurant. Francisco says this to Dagny as he explains that there are many stories about John Galt and they are all true. It is a reference to the ancient myth of Prometheus who stole fire form the Gods and was punished by having vultures eat him alive.

Francisco explains that John Galt was one who metaphorically gave fire to the people and was made to suffer for his selfless act. Now has withdrawn his gift until the people stop punishing him for giving them life. Rand’s philosophy of the primacy of self-interest attempts to reverse ancient Greek mythology of knowledge.

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