from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Containing its own meaning or purpose.
  • adj. Deriving meaning and purpose from within.
  • adj. Not motivated by anything beyond itself, thematically self-contained.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. of or pertaining to autotelism.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In esthetics, being an end in itself; existing or proceeding for its own sake: opposed to *heterotelic.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. of or relating to or believing in autotelism


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • I was looking through Csikszentmihalyi's book for a succinct definition of what 'autotelic' means, but he teases out the concept throughout his work.

  • Zhuangzi intimates that the flow-like experience can extend beyond the specific act of butchering to become a continuous state this is similar to Csikszentmihalyi's concept of the "autotelic personality".

    Lance P. Hickey, Ph.D.: ‘Flow’ Experiences: The Secret To Ultimate Happiness?

  • Blowing up those bridges then, considering the film as a purely autotelic artwork, it is quite possible, I'd argue, to read the work as dealing wholly with symbols and the relationships between them: a deserted Metro station; a flick-knife; a murder; a deserted tower-block; a wife; a police commissioner; a strangler; and so on.

    Notes on Strange Fiction: Postmodern(ism)

  • The autotelic text is a game of symbols, an artifice of ironic detachment, ludic or cynical, embodying an intellectual delight in the game for its own sake or an emotional disaffection in the absence of certainty.

    Notes on Strange Fiction: Postmodern(ism)

  • By reading BUFFET FROID as part of the postmodernist project, it seems to me, we close off these "totalising" interpretations and leave only one valid reading of the text: as an autotelic artefact of darkly comic absurdity, the ironic distance of its vision the only tenable response in a postmodern era.

    Notes on Strange Fiction: Postmodern(ism)

  • Rejecting the autotelic meaning offered in the narrative in and of itself, these readings become attempts to bind it to an "objective reality" which, in a postmodernist view, does not exist.

    Notes on Strange Fiction: Postmodern(ism)

  • If we read it simply as a pataphysical narrative, a fourth reading is possible, a reading that is not metaphysical but not entirely autotelic -- one in which, regardless of the context we project onto the events, it is understood as having something relevant to say as regards actual human relationships, about empathy and the lack thereof, about alienation and our capacity for cruelty.

    Notes on Strange Fiction: Postmodern(ism)

  • This is to say that narrative is essentially an act of figuration: its function is not to represent, but neither is it wholly autotelic; rather it is figurative, a crafting of idiom at a level higher and more abstract even than extended metaphor, at the level of stories -- which exist to revise the code, in Jakobson's terms, to establish new mappings between code and context.

    Notes on Strange Fiction: Narrative's Function (1)

  • It would be a mistake to conflate figurative language with directly referential language, but it is equally a mistake, I think, to treat this sort of "poetic" articulation as autotelic artificing.

    Notes on Strange Fiction: Narrative's Function (1)

  • As figurative rather than representative, narrative is not crudely polemical in the way it relates to its subjects, speaking of it only implicitly at most; but as figurative rather than fabricative, narrative is not autotelic at all.

    Archive 2008-08-01


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  • JM reckons the autotelic ends justify the autotelic means

    June 17, 2010