Aristotle is on Fire!

Tech Trouble

Yes, indeed, you might deduce from the heading that I like the Ancient Greek philosopher, but that is not my point here. On Thursday night during my first week in Prague, I met up with F, a friend from Germany. We had a few drinks, and while pondering about love and life, he told me about a concept that I formerly had referred to myself as the “pendulum effect”. I used this term to describe the observation that, when a change of mind makes you discard one extreme trait of yours, you are likely to subsequently switch to the opposite extreme, before realizing the “sweet spot” is actually somewhere in between. When he brought up a similar thought that night, calling it something “inherently Greek”, I just had to broach the subject.

As it appeared, it was indeed Aristotle from Ancient Greece who came up with that thing named MESOTES, which stands for the idea that a virtue is always positioned at some point between two opposed vices. These vices express surfeit and lack of the virtue, respectively. For instance: lavishness – beneficence – greed. However, the precise spot of that virtue, between the vices, is said to differ individually.

Pandering to my rising interest in the field, I decided afterwards I would start reading the ORGANON, a collection of fundamental texts regarding Aristotle’s philosophic views. After I discovered that the full version consisted of 500–1,000 pages, depending on the edition, I thought I’d rather read it as an eBook. I took my Amazon Fire tablet with me to Prague, so this would be perfect.

… And actually, it should be simple. Getting Aristotle On Fire. Just five short minutes, spared between my other jobs and to-dos. Right?



Well, it quickly became apparent that it is not done in just five short minutes.

While it was fairly easy to find a well-formatted full version of Aristotle’s Organon as PDF that is available for free (I do not like Amazon eBooks as I hate being forced to keep on using Amazon devices), getting a suitable eBook reader app was not easy at all. Let’s have a look.

The preinstalled Adobe Acrobat app had the option to switch from vertical scrolling to a one-page view, which I consider essential for a good reading experience. Just like with an eBook reader, you flip pages by tapping the right or left part of the screen. The only issue: There was nowhere an option to disable the swiping animation that happened with every page flip. This might sound like a minor thing, but I knew it would totally get on my nerves at some point when reading for several hours straight.

The other preinstalled PDF-Viewer app did not even have an option to alter the scrolling, so it was quickly off the table.

The last preinstalled app in question was Books from Amazon, which I tried as well because it appeared in the list of apps I could open the downloaded PDF file with. Alas, with the PDF file loaded, it did not allow any custom settings either. An arrow in the top left corner, which I thought might bring up a menu, barely closed the app without further notice. When, however, I opened the app without a file, there were settings, but not those I needed, and besides, no way to open PDF files stored on the tablet, as the actual purpose of the app is to tempt you to buy your eBooks from Amazon after all (so their proprietary file format forces you to keep on using Amazon devices). Also, dumped!

… Well no worries, there are thousands of free Android apps available on the web. And the features I need are actually pretty basic for an eReader app. Shouldn’t take long to find one that has them all, should it?

(Chapter 2 is still work in progress, please check back later.)

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