Here is a very pleasant article that makes similar claims about pure math. It's distinct from applied math, which means math that you can use for something. The article gets around to asking the question Aristotle doesn't ask, as he assumed you'd have to make a living doing something useful in order to pursue metaphysics:
Q: So if “applied” means “useful,” doesn’t it follow that “pure” must mean…
Q: You said it, not me.
A: Well, I prefer the phrase “for its own sake,” but “useless” isn’t far off.
Pure mathematics is not about applications. It’s not about the “real world.” It’s not about creating faster web browsers, or stronger bridges, or investment banks that are less likely to shatter the world economy.
Pure math is about patterns, puzzles, and abstraction. It’s about ideas. It’s about the other ideas that come before, behind, next to, or on top of those initial ones. It’s about asking, “Well, if that’s true, then what else is true?” It’s about digging deeper.
Q: You’re telling me there are people out there, right this instant, doing mathematics that may never, ever be useful to anyone?
A: *glances over at wife working, verifies that she’s not currently watching Grey’s Anatomy*
Q: Um… why?
A: Because it’s beautiful! They’re charting the frontiers of human knowledge. They’re no different than philosophers, artists, and researchers in other pure sciences.
Q: Sure, that’s why they’re doing pure math. But why are we paying them?
A: Ah! That’s a trickier question. Let me distract you from it with a rambling story.