When Dagney Taggart spent time in the Valley, she asked to be allowed to attend John Galt's lectures on physics. He refused on the grounds that he didn't want to give her information or ideas that could be used to help people on the outside, and that all of his students had a practical need for it (implication: she didn't). Some of his students included (among others) Dwight Sanders (formerly an aircraft manufacturer), Ted Nielsen (formerly a motor manufacturer), Quentin Daniels (professional physicist), and Owen Kellogg (formerly a manager for Taggert Transcontinental).

Most of those make perfect sense - physics has obvious applications to manufacturing aircraft and motors. I don't understand what Owen Kellogg would do with the information, though; also, it seems like if it was useful for Owen Kellogg, it would be equally useful for Dagney (which John Galt strongly implies that it's not).

Not wanting to give her information that could be helpful to outsiders before she had joined them makes perfect sense, but why the practicality objection? Why was Owen Kellogg on the list of people who had a practical use for the information but she wasn't?

2 Answers 2


A few possible answers:

  • It's not logical - this is a genuine mistake.
  • Owen Kellogg was planning on going into a different profession. (I don't think that that one is the most likely explanation because it's at least implied that the other people intended to go back to their former professions once they "re-emerged").
  • Kellogg would be in a more "hands-on" role in managing the Railroad than Dagney after the strike. While Dagney had done some fairly "hands-on" work (e.g. serving as her own contractor to build the John Galt Line), this was an anomaly. She did that only after there was literally no one left who could complete the John Galt Line and all of the remaining contractors in the country were even worse than Ben Nealy had been (which is saying something given that he was evidently pretty inept). Once the strike was over, Dick McNamara and other competent people would be available to perform those jobs again and she'd presumably go back to just being a manager. (In fact, with her brother Jim gone, she'd presumably be the CEO). I think that this is the most likely of the three possible explanations I've offered.

There's another possible interpretation.

For some reason, Galt seems to select two kinds of people:

  1. True leaders/geniuses. Rearden. Sanders. Daniels

  2. Those that would undermine Taggart T company. It's an interesting question about "why", but he was pretty happy about grabbing people who aren't shown to be extra genius such as Owen Kellogg and McNamara - merely very competent. The main quality outside competence seems to be "undermine Taggart despite Dagny's effort" - at the moment, she represented the opposite force to Galt, he wanted to break the old society and she was working with all her abilities to keep it alive.

    As such, including Owen Kellogg and McNamara may be for the same exact reason: they are ex-connected to Taggart. This kills two birds with one stone:

    • first, it pressures Dagny to defect to the Gulch (these two get access to Galt's ideas). She was already jealous of Daniels:

      "Really?" she said, almost with a touch of jealousy. "How can he afford anything that expensive?"

    • second, once Galt's goal is achieved, he'd obviously like Dagny to rebuild Taggart Transontinental - and the same people he stole from her, will be returned, up-leveraged with access to Galt's lecture ideas.

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