...an excerpt from...
The Fountainhead, Book 4
by Ayn Rand
I've looked at him--at what's left of him--and it's helped me to understand. He's paying the price and wondering for what sin and telling himself that he's been too selfish. In what act or thought of his has there ever been a self? What was his aim in life? Greatness--in other people's eyes. Fame, admiration, envy--all that which comes from others. Others dictated his convictions, which he did not hold, but he was satisfied that others believed he held them. Others were his motive power and his prime concern. He didn't want to be great, but to be thought great. He didn't want to build, but to be admired as a builder. He borrowed from others in order to make an impression on others. There's your actual selflessness. It's his ego he's betrayed and given up. But everybody calls him selfish.
(For all the criticism of Ayn Rand, whether literary or philosophical, I continue to enjoy this quote.)