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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

But all these statements are nonsense


any case all these things are miraculous and strange. How absurd to take these miracles for granted, and at the same time to disbelieve in the wonders of the Divine Age! Think again of the human body. Seeing with the eyes, hearing With the ears, speaking with the mouth, walking on the feet, and performing all manner of acts with the hands are strange things; so also the flight of birds and insects through the air, the blossoming of plants and trees, the ripening of their fruits and seeds are strange; and the strangest of all is the transformation of the fox and the badger into human form. If rats, weasels, and certain birds see in the dark, why should not the gods have been endowed with a similar faculty?.... The facts that many of the gods are invisible now and have never been visible furnish no argument against their existence. Existence can be made known to us by other senses than those of sight, such as odour or sound, while the wind, which is neither seen, heard, nor smelt is recognized by the impression which it makes upon our bodies. [Motoori Norinaga].

"Although numbers of Japanese cannot state with any certainty from what gods they are descended, all of them have tribal names (kabane) which were originally bestowed by the Mikado, and those who make it their province to study genealogies can tell from a man's ordinary surname who his remotest ancestor must have been. From the fact of the divine descent of the Japanese people proceeds

their immeasurable superiority to the natives of other countries in courage and intelligence.*

*Although Hirata claims the superiority for his own countrymen, he frankly acknowledges the achievements of the Dutch in natural science.

". . . The accounts given in other countries, whether by Buddhism or by Chinese philosophy, of the form of the heavens and earth and the manner in which they came into existence, are all inventions of men who exercised all their ingenuity over the problem, and inferred that such things must actually be the case. As for the Indian account, it is nonsense fit only to deceive women and children, and I do not think it worthy of reflection. The Chinese theories, on the other hand, are based upon profound philosophical speculations and sound extremely plausible, but what they call the absolute and the finite, the positive and negative essences, the eight diagrams, and the five elements, are not real existences, but are fictitious names invented by the philosophers and freely applied in every direction. They say that the whole universe was produced by agencies, and that nothing exists which is independent of them. But all these statements are nonsense. The principles which animate the universe are beyond the power of analysis, nor can they be fathomed by human intelligence, and all statements founded upon pretended explanations of them are to be rejected. All that man can think and know is limited by the powers of sight, feeling, and calculation, and what goes beyond these powers, cannot be known by any amount of thinking. . . .

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