Philosophy literally means the love of wisdom, as everyone seems to know but then somehow quickly forgets once that small bit of etymological insight is mentioned. I think that we cannot forget that most basic definition, for philosophy involves a love, an intense love, for wisdom, for truth, and for the “real”, whatever that may be. Other further definitions and distinctions that university types commonly make are often misguided, in that they divide philosophy from the paths to truth and wisdom that do not fit nicely into their latest classification of human knowledge, academic methodology, and the human experience.
Philosophy is not only that phenomenon of critical thinking that has dominated Western thought for almost three millennia or what others may call various forms of east Asian religious and folk wisdom, but it is, I think, the love of truth and the most basic desire to understand and to commune with everything. It embraces inquiry into the most transcendent realities, wonder at the world around us, and inspection into the depths of our minds and souls. For its material, for its evidence, philosophy takes the whole and aims for the whole. The philosopher loves the whole of wisdom.
Now, to what extent critical thinking involves skepticism, the overturning and murdering of mythos, and the other specific characteristics of much of the history of Western thought is a mystery to me. The jury is evidently still out on that case. However, let us demand that it consider all the evidence rather than slipping into sloth and idiocy in attempts to narrow and bracket the tough questions.