An example from my own experience, which, at the present time, affects me most, is the fact that few men have the ability or the desire to judge literary work by its essential worth. To most men, that work becomes valuable only after it has been recognized as such by someone else. They themselves do not have any standards of their own (and they do not feel the lack). The same is true of any other field of mental activity: scientific, philosophical, etc. This is the great unselfishness of today. As a matter of fact, unselfishness is merely selflessness. The true, highest selfishness, the exalted egoism, is the right to have one's own theoretical values and then to apply them to practical reality. Without that self there are no values. Here again—ethics based on self, not on society, the mass, the collective, or any other form of selflessness.
The Journals of Ayn Rand, David Harriman (editor), p. 71