There’s no such thing as a self-made man or woman. You’re more likely to encounter an actual unicorn. Whether in fiction or real life, those steely-eyed characters who claim superiority to everybody else actually depend on vast networks of other people, from whoever invented the wheel to whoever it was who cut and sewed that power suit and did it so well. Take away that network, and your superior person would be too frantically busy just staying alive to even think about being superior. The great Isaac Newton said that if he saw far, it was because he stood on the shoulders of giants. He might have taken that thought even further. For Newton and the rest of us don’t just stand on giants’ shoulders. We stand on the shoulders of all those who did the support work that let those giants be giants….
“Standing on the shoulders of giants,” an essay by Maria Popova on the history of Newton’s metaphor (on the website brainpickings)