What Are Some of the Things That Made Socrates a Famous Figure?

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.

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."