There really is such a thing as a pointless intellectual pleasure, but take all those Shakespeare scholars arguing over the real provenance of the man’s work. Are they really debating a matter of trivial importance, or do these partisans not hope to make something of a larger point about humanity? Maurice Morgann’s essay from 1777 on Falstaff is a good example:
..his Essay, by far his best-known work… was written, according to the author himself, purely for the intellectual pleasure of proving something of no importance. He wrote it for his own and other people’s pleasure, and for no other reason.
Actually, I think that here he was not being quite frank. Just as even the most cynical of hack journalists harbours the faint hope that a few of his pages might survive his death, so Morgann had a sneaking hope that his little book had more significance than he earlier claims for it.