A related question answered by Leonard Peikoff was why we cry at joyful occasions. His answer: we perceive the beauty of life in context with the knowledge that it is not always so. If you feel that complex mix of joy and sorrow welling up in the coming weeks, take my advice: let the tears flow. That’s how nature made us.
WE ARE the only animals who shed tears from emotion. But why? And what parts of the brain govern our impulse to weep? In Why Humans Like to Cry, Michael Trimble looks to neuroscience, art and evolution for answers.
His basic argument is that there is a set of neural systems in the brain that respond selectively to emotional stimuli and, specifically, tragedy. By this, he means the individual experience of loss, whose co-evolution with language and culture led to – or at least aided in – the birth of the art form of the same name, which deals with loss and suffering as essential aspects of humanity.