Popular Culture and Philosophy

A blog for contributors and editors by Series Editor, George A. Reisch

Anthony Bourdain and Philosophy, CFA

Posted on | February 14, 2022

Call for Abstracts
Anthony Bourdain and Philosophy
Edited by Scott Calef

The Carus Books Popular Culture and Philosophy Series

Abstracts are being sought for a collection of philosophical essays related to any aspect of the life, work and legacy of Anthony Bourdain to be published by Carus Books (the editorial team behind the similar series by Open Court).

Anthony Bourdain was a pop culture icon, celebrity chef, multi-times bestselling author, armchair philosopher, activist and travel documentarian. He has been everywhere, seemingly met everyone worth meeting (e.g. Barak Obama; Iggy Pop; Chuck Palahniuk), eaten everything (e.g. ant eggs; whole cobra; fermented shark; unwashed warthog rectum), and, until his tragic death by hanging in France while on assignment filming Parts Unknown, lived to tell the tale (and tell it very well).  Since his suicide, his fame has only grown.  Anthony Bourdain’s brilliant and multi-faceted career, his larger than life persona and influence, and his adventures in, and documentaries about, some of the most diverse and remote places on Earth raise many fascinating issues worthy of philosophical exploration.

Submission Guidelines:

Interested persons should submit, by July 1st, 2022, the following to Scott Calef (swcalef@owu.edu) in a single Microsoft Word document: (1) An abstract between 100 -500 words,  (2) a biographical statement of no more than 150 words for each author/co-author, and (3) a CV for each author/co-author.

All submissions should be philosophically substantial but accessible and fun, written to engage the intelligent lay reader with little or no prior experience of academic philosophy.  (Prospective authors are strongly encouraged to consult other published books in the Popular Culture and Philosophy series to get a sense of the intended style.)

As a general rule, references should be kept to a minimum and final chapters are expected to be between 3,000 and 4,500 words with a strong preference for submissions in the lower end of that range.

Please note that all chapters must (a) entertainingly engage with some aspect of Bourdain’s life and work and (b) seek to expand the readers’ appreciation of Bourdain and his accomplishments using philosophical concepts and thinkers.  Submissions which fail to satisfy both aims will not be considered.


  • July 1st, 2022: Abstracts, biographies and CVs are due to the editor (swcalef@owu.edu; scottcalef@yahoo.com). Prospective participants are invited to contact the editor at any time prior to the July 1st deadline to convey their interest. Note: Acceptance of an abstract should not be construed as a commitment to publish the final paper.
  • November 15th, 2022: First drafts of accepted papers are due to the editor.
  • February 15th, 2023: Final revisions (if applicable) of accepted papers are due.

(Early submissions are encouraged and welcomed!)

Possible themes include:

Philosophy and Food:

·      What is food?  What is “good” food?  What does Bourdain have to say about that?
·      What is the relationship between food and culture, food and community?
·      What types of food is it ethical to consume?  To produce?
·      What sorts of meanings attach to food?

Personal, Social and Professional Ethics:

·      Is it wrong to take advantage of less-discriminating customers?
·      Is it unethical for a restaurant to serve substandard food? Food that is leftover, not fresh or dropped on the floor?
·      Is vegetarianism, as Bourdain once stated, a “first world luxury”?  Is meat eating morally permissible?
·      In Parts Unknown, Bourdain goes hunting. Is that ok?
·      In Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain describes elite NY restaurants in the 1990s that fostered a culture where machismo, sexism and offensive language was rife. Is it appropriate to hold people who e.g. facilitated a “hostile work environment” decades ago accountable to moral norms recognized and embraced today?
·      Is it permissible for restaurants to hire the undocumented?
·      Is suicide a moral problem?
·      Is refusal to tip a theft of service?
·      Bourdain’s support for the immigrants / the Palestinians / victims of sexual assault.
·      Anthony Bourdain and the Platonic “cardinal virtues”: Was he courageous?  Moderate?  (Bourdain had an addictive personality.)  Wise?  Just?
·      Anthony Bourdain and Epicureanism.
·      Can expensive fine dining and 3 star Michelin restaurants be justified on utilitarian grounds?


·      Is taste relative?  Subjective?  Is Bourdain really a better cook than I am?
·      On the flip side, is it an objective truth that spoiled milk, burnt food, and food chock full of artificial ingredients is “bad”?
·      Is cooking an art, or, as Bourdain alleged, a craft?  What’s the difference?
·      Why is loving wine for its aesthetic qualities sophisticated, but loving a person for their appearance shallow?
·      Is there such a thing as “food porn”?  What is that supposed to be, exactly?
·      If food can be art, what sort of art is it which is destroyed in the very act of being appreciated?

Diversity, Travel and Knowledge:

·      What sort of wisdom does travel bring?  How are wisdom, knowledge and perspective related?
·      Do we have an obligation to be open minded, non-judgmental, flexible, and receptive to new experiences?  If so, why?
·      What do we miss by vacationing in an all-inclusive resort and never venturing off the hotel property?
·      Is it really true that all people, everywhere, are basically the same?  How can we know?
·      Topics related to Bourdain’s late-career obsession with martial arts training.
·      The documentary film / travelogue format and the nature of “truth”.

Thank you!
Scott Calef (swcalef@owu.edu; scottcalef@yahoo.com)


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The Philosophy and Pop Culture series at Carus Books brings philosophy to general readers by critically exploring the meanings, concepts, and puzzles within television shows, movies, music and other icons of popular culture.