an end in itself

an end in itself

Something that is its own entity with no greater purpose. My parents think that studying literature is an end in itself and will never lead to a career.
See also: end, itself
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

*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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

end in itself

A purpose or goal desired for its own sake (rather than to attain something else). For example, For me, writing books is an end in itself; they don't really make that much money. This expression employs the noun end in the sense of "final cause or purpose," a usage dating from the early 1500s.
See also: end, itself
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

an ˌend in itˈself

a thing that is itself important and not just a part of something more important: Speech is not an end in itself, but a means to communicate something.
See also: end, itself
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
The ever-present danger is that technical expertise becomes an end in itself.