Due to experiencing the volatile state of the Athenian government, it is not surprising that Socrates had much to say on the topic of political philosophy. Central to his political theory was his position on how citizens ought to approach ethics and politics. In the Apology, Socrates' conduct demonstrates his belief that citizens must not be complacent when it comes to political virtue. In order to push citizens out of complacency, Socrates used a method called the “elecnhus” to prod citizens to discover the true definition of virtues (Jowett, 2009). In doing this, Socrates hoped to promote a rigorous understanding of traditional moral virtues; an understanding of what courage, justice, and wisdom, truly meant (Jowett, 2009). At first
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It was seen as radical because such questioning of traditional values was seen as insulting and violating these same values (Jowett, 2009). While this may be seen as radicalism, it is clear that this is not the case when Socrates' concept of the spiritual realm and the forms are introduced. Stemming from his theory of values, Socrates believed that all traditional Greek values existed in a pure and absolute form that could only become known through reason (Jowett, 2009). Therefore, the purpose of questioning the traditional values was only in order to stimulate the realization of the true essence of these values. Socrates believed that by doing so, it was the ultimate act of respect to traditional moral values, and the first motive can thus be interpreted as conservative.
However, the questioning of traditional values ultimately entailed the questioning of Athenian laws. While this also may be seen as radicalism, it is clear that this is not the case when Socrates' distinguishes the difference between the worldly realm and the spiritual realm. Socrates believed that all traditional Greek values were embodied in a universal law within the spiritual realm, that is above the malleable Athenian law which existed in the physical realm. While