Platonic thought holds that knowledge can be accessed when we first approach the ideal, that is to say; the general before the specific; the cosmic before the earthly; the godly before the human. Aristotelic thought, on the other hand, holds that knowledge can be accessed when we approach the human before the godly, the earthly before the cosmic, the specific before the general, and the idea before the ideal.
The reason Aristotle (who was only 25 when Plato died) had this discrepancy with his teacher (inarguably the greatest of the ancient Greek philosophers), was because Aristotle believed, through his observation of human nature, that the human ‘I’, its ‘Ego’, or its Mind, was the best tool for human development. Cosmic wisdom, he stated, was veiled from our senses. Humans could no longer access universal truth as they did before.
For humanity, the individual spirit, the personal ‘I’, was beginning to flourish, while its intuitive connection to the spiritual worlds was beginning to recede. We must focus on the specific—this being the personal development of each and every human Mind—in order to spiritually evolve.
So here was Plato, the last initiate of ancient times in incarnation, an eminence in every sense, and he had to deal with a pupil who was questioning the entire basis of his approach to knowledge.
This debate is famously reproduced in ‘The School of Athens’, by Renaissance man Raphael. It is said that the argument got so serious, Plato refused entry of Aristotle into his academy, which may mean Aristotle never got initiated.
On his deathbed, Plato summoned Aristotle, who went and sat with him. It is said Plato announced to his ex-pupil his decision to retire into the spiritual worlds, which meant he would not incarnate on earth again for some time. It is also said the two philosophers reconciled in the end, and that Aristotle departed Plato‘s house on friendly terms before Plato died.
How much of this actually happened is not important. What is important is that these two distinct streams of wisdom were finally synthesized into one philosophy by Christian Rosenkreuz, who is so great an initiate that he is an active participant of both earthly and cosmic events.
According to Rosicrucian wisdom, it is true we are earthly beings, but there will come a time when we will once again be reunited with the greater realities of the cosmos, and also become participants in universal affairs.
Therefore, humanity must first learn to connect with what is spiritual within its own self, transmute its lower nature into a higher expression by purifying the Ego, and then establish the right relationship to the cosmos by understanding its laws.
Both the Aristotelic and the Platonic streams of wisdom are necessary for this task.