Atlas Shrugged

Art and Reason in Atlas Shrugged College

As Dagny enters Richard Halley’s valley cottage in the cool calm of the night, she is enveloped with music that hits her as a “symbol of moral pride” (717) This pride is not built on what the heart feels is valuable, but on what the mind knows to be of value. Richard Halley is a music composer, he is an artist, and yet he understands that “all work is creative work if done by a thinking man”(933). He approaches his art with the same moral productiveness as a businessman.

The act of playing his music and of Dagny experiencing it is “mutual trade for mutual profit” (717). Halley however explains to Dagny that when he plays for general audiences in the outside world, there is no reciprocal trade for his music: “I do not care to be admired causelessly, emotionally, intuitively, instinctively-- or blindly.”(717) Halley’s work has typically been judged by unthinking men, who themselves know and produce very little and yet, Halley bemoans, it’s these very people who evaluate a man of the mind. The reason Halley had to leave the outside world and take his work with him is in essence why every member of John’s Gulch comes to live inside the valley.

For Halley, his art is a testament of his “capacity to see,” and his relentless “devotion...

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