1. Religion & Spirituality

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Most Emailed Articles

The Bible and Suicide

extrinsic vs. intrinsic
<Back to Last Page >     <Glossary Index>

 Related Terms
• philosophy


The distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic is a distinction between the types of characteristics an object might have. Intrinsic characteristics are those which an object has by its very nature, regardless of its situation or circumstances. Extrinsic characteristics are those which an object has solely in relationship to other objects and/or its environment.

For example, a person may be intrinsically male, but extrinsically an engineer.

It is also possible to speak of value as being either intrinsic or extrinsic. For example, a micrometer only has extrinsic value because it is useless to people who do not use such a tool. The question of whether or not some things, like love, have intrinsic value is a matter of debate.

There is also the possibility of a paradox in the relationship between extrinsic and intrinsic values. For example, exercise might be seen as having extrinsic value because it leads to good health. Normally, that is only true if good health itself has intrinsic value. If it does not, then it only has value in relationship to something else - threatening to create an infinite regress.

Also Known As: none

Alternate Spellings: none

Common Misspellings: none

Related Resources:

What is Epistemology?
Epistemology is the investigation into the grounds and nature of knowledge itself. Epistemological studies are usually focused upon our means for acquiring knowledge, and as a consequence, modern epistemology generally involves a debate between rationalism and empiricism, or the question of whether knowledge can be acquired a priori or a posteriori.

What is Philosophy?
What is philosophy? Is there any point in studying philosophy, or is it a useless subject? What are the different branches of philosophy - what's the difference between aestheitcs and ethics? What's the difference between metaphysics and epistemology?

<Back to Last Page >     <Glossary Index>

©2015 About.com. All rights reserved.