an end in itself

*an end in itself

existing for its own sake; existing for no clear purpose. (*Typically: be ~; become ~.) For Bob, art is an end in itself. He doesn't hope to make any money from it. Learning is an end in itself. Knowledge does not have to have a practical application.
See also: end, itself

an end in itself

(slightly formal)
satisfying no other purpose than the enjoyment of doing it Memorizing facts can become an end in itself and not a way of understanding something.
See also: end, itself

an end in itself

if an activity or action is an end in itself, it is important to you not because it will help you to achieve something else, but because you enjoy doing it or think that it is important Education should be an end in itself.
See also: end, itself
References in classic literature ?
Every man's work, pursued steadily, tends in this way to become an end in itself, and so to bridge over the loveless chasms of his life.
This inalienable habit of saving, as an end in itself, belonged to the industrious men of business of a former generation, who made their fortunes slowly, almost as the tracking of the fox belongs to the harrier,--it constituted them a "race," which is nearly lost in these days of rapid money-getting, when lavishness comes close on the back of want.
She had accepted it as a place to live in, as an end in itself.
The ever-present danger is that technical expertise becomes an end in itself.