I. Should We Do Philosophy Or Just Read About It?
Philosophy is - or should be - the systematic investigation of really difficult intellectual problems: 2nd order problems like 'What is consciousness?' that we have to work out the right questions to ask in the process of the investigation (more here). This requires skills in interpreting and creatively recombining the contributions of others (which is a part of scholarship: e.g. mining the history of ideas for philosophy), but it requires doing so for the purpose of investigating the problem at hand rather than for investigating those contributions themselves.
In contrast, the humanities approach to scholarship is mainly concerned with reconstructing the meaning and context of canonical philosophical texts. This is completely different from the attitude and skills required for treating other philosophers' work as a resource for doing philosophy. Such 'philosophology' stands in relation to doing philosophy as the study of the history of music stands in relation to being a musician.
This 'scholarship approach' explains several peculiarities of contemporary academic philosophy, including its biographical orientation (in which it is the philosopher who must be understood rather than the ideas that must be assessed) and the fetishisation of philosophical works themselves as aesthetic cultural objects (most pronounced in continental philosophy and the liberal arts movement).
Let me try to explain how I think the logic of this proceeds. If a philosophical work is worth studying in itself then it must be good in itself, regardless of how relevant or interesting its line of analysis seems to us these days. Thus, if you are not interested in what Aristotle or Kant or Confucius or Nietzsche are saying then that is your problem, not theirs. Our role is to study and contemplate their works with the proper intellectual humility and be appropriately amazed. Certain works of philosophy are granted the status of sacred objects in themselves, which we are supposed to orient our intellectual life around. This is an attitude more familiar from religion than intellectual inquiry.
This turns philosophy from the science of ideas into the study of the divine (i.e. theology). Philosophers investigate the nuances of dead celebrity philosophers' published and unpublished writings seeking to answer the ultimately useless question of what they really meant. Or they pretend to do actual philosophy - i.e. address currently interesting problems - but only by treating dead philosophers as prophets. So they ask 'What would Kant say about x?' - as if correctly discerning what Kant thought or would think is an adequate answer to the question of what we should think about it. Now there is nothing wrong with developing some new idea inspired by a reading of Kant or Confucius or whoever. But an idea is not justified by its illustrious biographical pedigree. It has to stand on its own merits.
A further consequence is cultural chauvinism and its opposite, cultural fetishism (an ill-tempered debate between which is now roiling academic philosophy).
On the one hand, if a philosophical work is to be granted the status of being so great that it is worth studying no matter where in the world or in history you stand, this requires a grand and hubristic affirmation of its culture-transcending superiority. This is chauvinistic because it is obvious that philosophy is a culturally embedded practise in the sense that it is an attempt to address problems that humans in a particular social context find interesting and important using the intellectual resources available to them. To claim that certain philosophers (say, the ones in the traditional Western Canon) are universally important is to assert the timeless relevance of the way they framed problems and tried to solve them, which is patently ridiculous.
Aristotle's world is dead: socially, economically, politically, and technologically no more. I have as little interest in Aristotle's reflections on the ethical challenges of his long dead world as I have in his outdated science. Neither address relevant questions. I can readily imagine that would-be philosophers even further removed from Aristotle's world than I am are even more bemused or insulted to be told they need to study Aristotle's answers to the questions he found important. It is like teaching physics by studying Democritus.
On the other hand, rejecting chauvinist arguments for the universal importance of philosophers traditionally fetishised by Western academic philosophers doesn't automatically mean that non-Western philosophers like Confucius are therefore important (as many 'decolonialist' philosophers seem to argue).
Philosophy is culturally contingent in the same way that science is culturally contingent; not in the same way that an art form (like poetry) is culturally contingent. Philosophy is the attempt to get a grasp on the most complicated problems in the world. Such efforts must always be from some perspective since philosophy is done by people (not gods) and people are situated in some time and place. But merely because philosophy - like any intellectual effort - must always be done from some perspective does not mean that it is merely about that perspective. We should not confuse philosophy with the kind of intellectual efforts - like kabuki or opera - that really are local to cultures which create bubbles of (aesthetic) meaningfulness that can only be appreciated properly in their particular terms, i.e. from within the cultural perspectives that created them.
Nevertheless, the perspectives from which philosophy is done do matter a lot. A cynical critique of philosophy is that it doesn't make any progress since it is still grappling with the same old problems. This misunderstands what is going on. The problems we need philosophy for are continually moving and changing shape as our situation changes (as our interests and intellectual abilities shift), and so the philosopher's task of finding the right questions to ask is also changing.
For example, like any other philosopher, Confucius tried to find and answer the right questions for his time and context (such as the challenge of moral survival under violently competing despotisms). But those questions are not necessarily good ones to ask today, under very different social and economic arrangements. And even if they were, we have many other philosophers of totalitarianism to draw from, including Confucius' intellectual descendants, so it is still not clear why Confucius should be our first resort. Nor does it make sense to care about how successful Confucius was in his own terms as a philosopher (how well his ideas stuck together), nor about his influence on Chinese society or on other intellectuals who also don't have anything interesting to offer for our time. At least, I don't think caring about those things would be an act of philosophy rather than intellectual history (i.e. 'philosophology').
II. Philosophy as the Science of Ideas
The association of philosophy with the humanities has problems beyond cultural fetishism. In particular certain thinking problems seem endemic in the humanities - indeed some of these were ones that the methods and attitudes of science were specifically developed to overcome.
One of the most striking is that while humanities scholars seem very adept at 'discovering' new points and ideas, this is accompanied by a reluctance to evaluate and rank those discoveries (see previously). I think this comes from the qualitative rather than quantitative orientation of the humanities (a distinction I borrow from Deirdre McCloskey in a different context). Qualitative analysis is concerned with whether or not some claim is true, for example, 'Does God exist, yes or no?' Quantitative analysis is concerned with how much, for example 'How much radiation is being given off by that machine and how much danger of cancer does that correlate to?' Quantitative analysis is the kind that dominates the sciences, and the kind that is unfortunately mostly missing in the humanities and the style of philosophy associated with it.
The problem is that if one sets oneself a qualitative (deductive) standard of evidence one will always fall short of the proof one needs to make a judgement and so one will end up with a vast number of theories and claims and no way to discriminate between them.
1. No claim can be proven 100%2. Therefore no claim can be disproved3. Any claim that cannot be falsified is equal in epistemic status to any other4. Therefore all claims have equal epistemic status