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From Ancient Greek αὐτός (autós, self) +‎ τέλος (télos, result; end).


autotelic (comparative more autotelic, superlative most autotelic)

  1. (of an entity or event) Containing its own meaning or purpose.
    • 2012, J.F. Rosenberg, Linguistic Representation, Springer Science & Business Media (→ISBN), page 6
      Chess itself, however – the playing of the game – is most frequently engaged in, as we say, for its own sake, as an autotelic activity rather than as a teleological one. The majority of utterances of a language are teleological, aiming at informing []
  2. (of a person) Deriving meaning and purpose from within.
  3. (art, of a work of art or literature) Not motivated by anything beyond itself; thematically self-contained.
    • 1989, Michael Davidson, The San Francisco Renaissance: Poetics and Community at Mid-century, Cambridge University Press (1991), →ISBN, page 112:
      “Running Water Music II” represents a contemporary version of the autotelic poem, freer than its modernist predecessors to assert connections, celebrate openly, declare connections between self and world, but bound by semantic and imagistic frames that derive from a single source.

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