Dick was a consummate autodidact. He survived for less than one semester at college, at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1949, taking and quitting Philosophy 10A in the space of a few weeks. Dick left the class in disgust at the ignorance and intolerance of his instructor when he asked his professor about the plausibility of Plato’s metaphysical theory of the forms — the truth of which was later proven for Dick by the experience of 2-3-74. Dick was evidently not trained as a philosopher or theologian — although I abhor that verb “trained,” which makes academics sound like domestic pets. Dick was an amateur philosopher or, to borrow a phrase from one of the editors of “Exegesis,” Erik Davis, he was that most splendid of things: a garage philosopher.
What Dick lacks in academic and scholarly rigor, he more than makes up for in powers of imagination and rich lateral, cumulative association. If he had known more, it might have led him to produce less interesting chains of ideas. In a later remark in “Exegesis,” Dick writes, “I am a fictionalizing philosopher, not a novelist.” He interestingly goes on to add, “The core of my writing is not art but truth.” We seem to be facing an apparent paradox, where the concern with truth, the classical goal of the philosopher, is not judged to be in opposition to fiction, but itself a work a fiction. Dick saw his fiction writing as the creative attempt to describe what he discerned as the true reality. He adds, “I am basically analytical, not creative; my writing is simply a creative way of handling analysis.”