I just started reading philosophy, and I started by reading Plato's Republic, Phaedo, and Apology. I don't feel like I could explain much about Plato's philosophical thought though, and I feel almost like I'm wasting my time.
I take notes and understand what is being written, but it feels hopelessly shallow. In Phaedo, for example, he talks through Socrates about the immortality of the soul for an extremely long time. I understood the arguments well enough, but is that really all there is to understanding a philosophical text? When I hear people talk about texts, it seems so long and convoluted, and all I can help but think is "how on Earth did you glean absolutely any of that from the extremely simplistic arguments given by Plato"?
Yet, there must be more to it, as every single philosopher or enthusiast speaks this way about these texts. I mean, how could anyone give a lecture about Plato's argument in Phaedo about the harmony of the soul and body based solely on the arguments given in the book? It feels so gibberish and postural.
Is the only possible way to understand, say, Nietzsche, to read every single book he reads, and then read every author that he references as the setup to his work? If so, how does one understand any text at all?
So many philosophical texts seem like they're built upon 400 other philosophers and no explanation is given for how they reached the presumptive claims -- just "if you have read my previous books, and are familiar with Schopenhauer, you will understand this... here are seven arguments built on his several books that you haven't read and can't understand unless you do."
I understand how ranty this is, but it is necessary for people to understand my conundrum. It's starting to seem like reading philosophy is a completely hopeless engagement in retracing the history of every philosophical text ever written to understand the current read.