Philosopher

Lawrence Hass is the Dean of McBride's Magic & Mystery School in Las Vegas. He is former Professor of Philosophy and Theatre Arts at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and former Professor of Humanities at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991, after which time he began to develop his interdisciplinary career while teaching at Muhlenberg College.

Although Larry didn't realize it at the time, his dissertation on the experiential features of perception was his gateway into magic. Shortly after completing his Ph.D., Larry was watching magic on television one night and realized that magicians were creating a kind of perceptual and aesthetic experience that, to his knowledge, traditional philosophers had entirely ignored. In short, he discovered and began to uncover an "under-theorized" art form, and he is widely recognized as a pioneer in the scholarly study of magic.

After awakening to magic in 1994, Larry gave himself, in effect, a post-doctorate in magic. Inspired by the writings of master magician Eugene Burger, who would soon become his close friend and mentor, Larry plunged into great works in the vast literature of magic. But he also began following what has emerged as his true calling: performing magic in a way that is astonishing and interesting to thoughtful, theatrical audiences. His deep interest in both the scholarly study and the artistic performance of magic was the inspiration for his Theory and Art of Magic Program--a series of events in academic settings that bring both sides of the art together for magicians and for the public.

Before becoming a full-time professional magician (in 2010), Larry had achieved a national reputation for his wide-ranging scholarship in 20th Century European philosophy. He is the author of an acclaimed book on the great French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty entitled Merleau-Ponty's Philosophy.

These days, Larry exclusively teaches, coaches, and directs magic, but over his 25 years in the academy, he taught a wide array of philosophy courses on aesthetics, phenomenology, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and postmodern philosophy. He received several distinguished awards for his outstanding teaching from both the University of Illinois and Muhlenberg College.