Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak:  Reflections on Moral Prejudice. Morgenröte: Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurteile (also could be translated as The Dawn).

Written and published in 1881.

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However much people go on and on about their "egoism" the vast majority spend their whole life doing nothing for their own ego and are instead concerned with an imaginary one which has been formed by their acquaintances and impressed on them.  As a consequence they live in a haze of impersonal and semi personal opinions and of arbitrary and as it were poetic evaluations: taken from the mind of another which got in turn from another—a strange world of phantasms which nevertheless manages to appear very real!  This fog of habits and opinions lives and grows almost independently of the people that it envelops; it is this fog that gives rise to the tremendous effects of general judgments concerning "man "— all those men who do not know themselves believe in a bloodless abstraction which they call "man" – which is a fiction; and every change caused in this abstraction by the judgments of powerful individuals (such as princes and philosophers) produces an extraordinary and irrational effect on the great majority—for the simple reason that not a single individual in this fog has its own ego that represents himself and separates him from this all encompassing fiction which he could thereby destroy.  
 

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