In the recent film "The Prestige" (based on the Christopher Priest novel of the same name), the narrator explains the structure of a standard magic trick. Every illusion, we are told, has three parts:
First, there is the setup, or the "pledge," in which the magician shows us something that appears ordinary but is probably not, making use of misdirection. (Example: a magician shows a dove.) Second, there is the performance or the trick, known as the "turn," in which the magician makes the ordinary extraordinary. (The bird disappears.) Lastly, there is the "prestige" where the effect of the illusion is produced. (The bird reappears.)
The idea driving the film is that every illusion needs the prestige. No one claps when the bird disappears because, as the film suggests, it isn't enough just to make something disappear. You have to make it come back. The "prestige" is what makes us wonder to ourselves: how did he do that? was that a trick? or was it really magic?
Now, for some people (like Hugh Jackman's character in the film) the prestige is both wonder-producing and maddening. We want to figure it out-- or to believe that it can be figured out--and for some of us the "mystery" will nag us and drive us obsessively toward uncovering the mystery that has stymied our understanding.
So, here's my suggestion: philosophers, in particular, need the prestige. Maybe philosophy is the prestige.... the presentation of the illusion that something--perhaps everything--can be known.