Immediately prior to introducing the concept of reason, by means of which the previously unhappy and alienated consciousness makes the move towards absolute knowledge, a mysterious mediator is abruptly introduced into Hegel‘s narrative: “in the mediator, then, this consciousness frees itself.” The moment of the appearance of this figure is itself germane to a discussion of the link between romanticism and modernity. The mediator appears as the transition between part four “Self-Consciousness” and part five “Reason.” Indeed, the mediator is introduced as a “middle term” or transition. The mediator appears in the text as the transitional moment between part four and five of the Phenomenology and thematically as the agent which facilitates the transition from unhappy consciousness to reason. Additionally, the role of the mediator itself, is to present the unchangeable aspect of consciousness to the changeable or unessential consciousness.
I have said above that the appearance of the mediator is abrupt. By this I mean to say that a transitional moment is always a moment which allows for pause and reflection. If it were not for the arrival of the mediator (an event which is presented in the language of spontaneity) self-consciousness and reason would be separated by an impassable chasm. In order to grasp for self-consciousness to reach reason the mediator must appear. Here, at the moment of the mediator, Hegel‘s narrative pauses and only once the role of the mediator has been understood, can it continue. Therefore the transitional moment of the mediator serves as a bridge. And a bridge is of course an in between position, a position which demands reflection.
I read Hegel‘s mediator, in other words, as a figure which produces consciousness through transition and reflection. I propose that this figure, therefore, provides a model for the relationship between modernity and romanticism.