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What are some of the things that made Socrates a famous figure?

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In addition to being considered one of the founders of Western philosophy, Socrates is remembered for his iconic trial and execution for irreverence by the Athenian democracy, his development of what came to be known as the Socratic Method and for the almost religious admiration accorded him. Socrates also led a lifestyle that was somewhat contrary to what represented the norm for citizens of Athens during the 5th century B.C. and he gained a reputation as an often irritating social and moral critic of Athenian collective notions. Rigorous self-examination was strongly advocated by Socrates, and one of his most well-known quotes is "the unexamined life is not worth living," which he famously stated at his trial.

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The Socratic Method, or dialectic method of inquiry, is considered to be Socrates' greatest contribution. Based on a series of specially constructed questions designed to determine an individual's or group's extent of knowledge or fundamental beliefs, the Socratic Method represents the inverse, or negative version, of the method of inquiry known as hypothetical elimination.

Socrates' fame can also be measured outside the world of philosophy by the many places and things that bear his name. For example, there is a crater on the moon named "Socrates," eSocrates is the name of a Web-based business enterprise and the name given to a European Union educational program is Socrates. He also appears in famous paintings, such as Raphael's "School of Athens," and is the subject of Jacques Louis David's "The Death of Socrates."

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What did Socrates believe in?

    A:

    Scholars do not know the exact nature of Socrates' beliefs because he did not leave behind any writings. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, nearly all available knowledge about Socrates comes from the writings of Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes, all of whose reliability is questionable.

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  • Q:

    Why is Sophocles famous?

    A:

    Greek dramatist Sophocles excelled in the fields of literature and theater; he produced several great works, including the acclaimed drama "Oedipus the King." Historians consider Sophocles a distinguished playwright, and one of the three greatest producers to hail from Greece, along with Euripides and Aeschylus. Sophocles produced more than 120 dramas during his lifetime, and enjoyed a long and distinguished career.

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  • Q:

    How was Socrates different from the Sophists?

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    Socrates differed from the Sophists because he believed in looking for the absolute truth in an objective fashion, while the Sophists believed that people should make decisions based on what they felt was "true" inside of themselves. Socrates felt that society needed wisdom, and that wisdom was more than the subjective "truth" that the sophists praised.

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  • Q:

    What are some of the interesting facts about Socrates?

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    Aside from his intelligence and wisdom, Socrates invented a new style in conversation, and priests were threatened by his inner voice. He was also accused of corrupting the social system and not valuing the Greek gods of the time.

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