The whole subject of the expenditure of material force in maintaining those forms of mental action which are carried on through the medium of bodily organs, it must be admitted, is involved in great obscurity; for it is only a glimmering of light which science has yet been able to throw into this field. It is, however, becoming the settled opinion, among all well-informed persons, that the soul, during the time of its connection with a material system in this life, performs many of those functions which we class as mental, through the medium, or instrumentality, in some mysterious way, of material organs, just as we all know is the case with the sensations—that is, the impressions made through the organs of sense; and that the maintaining of these mental organs, so to speak, in action, involves a certain expenditure of some form of physical force, the source of this force being in the food that is consumed in the nourishment of the body.
There is certainly no apparent reason why there should be any antecedent presumption against the supposition that the soul performs the act of remembering or of conceiving an imaginary scene through the instrumentality of a bodily organ, more than that it should receive a sensation of light or of sound through such a channel. The question of the independent existence and the immateriality of the thinking and feeling principle, which takes cognizance of these thoughts and sensations, is not at all affected by any inquiries into the nature of the instrumentality by means of which, in a particular stage of its existence, it performs these functions.
Phenomena explained by this Principle.
This truth, if it be indeed a truth, throws great light on what would be otherwise quite inexplicable in the playful activity of the mental faculties of children. The curious fantasies, imaginings, and make-believes—the pleasure of listening to marvellous and impossible tales, and of hearing odd and unpronounceable words or combination of words —the love of acting, and of disguises—of the impersonation of inanimate objects—of seeing things as they are not, and of creating and giving reality to what has no existence except in their own minds—are all the gambollings and frolics, so to speak, of the embryo faculties just becoming conscious of their existence, and affording, like the muscles of motion, so many different issues for the internal force derived from the food. Thus the action of the mind of a child, in holding an imaginary conversation with a doll, or in inventing or in relating an impossible fairy story, or in converting a switch on which he pretends to be riding into a prancing horse, is precisely analogous to that of the muscles of the lamb, or the calf, or any other young animal in its gambols—that is, it is the result of the force which the vital functions are continually developing within the system, and which flows and must flow continually out through whatever channels are open to it; and in thus flowing, sets all the various systems of machinery into play, each in its own appropriate manner.