I've been puzzled lately about how I know so much about historical philosophy.
The few times I've tried to pick up a philosophy text, I've been unable to wring any value from them. All the discernible ideas - tucked carefully between bloated archaicisms and fluff - are obvious - right or wrong. (Usually wrong.)
Today I figured it out. People are very fond of repeating the ideas of other people as if they were their own. Through osmosis, I have apparently absorbed nearly every influential idea. As it turns out, this is basically the entire corpus of the so called major philosophers. It's easy - I read the writing of a bunch of people who like to think they are smart, (notice, I don't care if they are smart or not) and found the distilled ideas, ready to absorb.
I now know why I found philosophy so easy to self-teach. It's everywhere. Realizing this, I was struck by how profoundly weak the philosophical community is. Our society should be inundated with serious thought, much as we are inundated with the media in which these distilled droplets are embedded.
For the interested, I was reading this guy rant on about 'evidence' and 'testability' and realized that he thinks he knows these things because he reasoned them through, or found them useful, instead of because that's what he was taught to believe. It's a faithful reproduction and useful if you haven't seen Empiricism spelled out before. I realized this would work as a transmission of every idea. As a result, there is no need to actually read philosophy to be a good philosopher. You just need to read.