Limited… but Loved.

Recently a bunch of youth from church and I went to see the movie Limitless starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish and Robert DeNiro. As far as movies go – I personally thought it was mediocre. The character development was weak and the fluidity of the movie was lacking although maybe intentionally. The premise though – well that’s another story. Surely this movie has potential…

The concept behind Limitless is relatively simple (and don’t worry this isn’t a spoiler for those of you who haven’t seen it). A struggling writer (Cooper) is introduced to a top-secret drug (NZT) that allows him to access the entirety of his brain capacity not simply the 20% that the movie claims that we currently use. This part of the movie obviously wasn’t thought through with more than .001% of someone’s brain though because “unlocking one’s potential” implies unlocking 100% of one’s brain. If that would be the case then there would be a limit to what we could unlock and thus a limit to the available possibilities. Even in the film, one of the characters notes that NZT works better if you are ”smart” to begin with – posing the obvious problem that some people will be “limited” compared to others. In light of that point, maybe the director, Neil Burger, will consider renaming the DVD version of the film to: “Limited – but Super Gifted” or “ I’m Awesome – Your Sorta Cool”. Somehow I highly doubt it.

Actually, as I understand things, talking about using a percentage of one’s brain is going about things all-wrong. Mechanically, you use 100% of your brain. Maximizing usage is another subject all together.

This is where the film posits an interesting question about human enhancement though. If you could simply take a pill to unlock your “potential”, maximizing your brain usage would you do it? And if you could and did would you really be better than others around you? Sure, you might be able to outsmart Ken Jennings, judo-chop Chuck Norris (blasphemy!), speak all of the dialects of Klingon, and learn to tie your shoes one handed – but would you fundamentally be better than other people? Better yet, and more useful – what if you could cure cancer or find a way to end world hunger? What if you could cause an end to poverty? Would that make you a fundamentally better person than others?

It seems very tempting to say “Yes” to such a question because the first thing we do when we analyze this query is to compare ourselves to others. Sure, Usain Bolt can beat me in a 200 M dash but does that make him fundamentally “better” than me? Yes, Bono can sing a kickin’ rock song but does that make him fundamentally better than me? Sure, I can arm wrestle a second grade girl (I had to go pretty low there) and win but does that make me fundamentally better than her? Of course not! Why? Because our worth is not fundamentally based in what we can do. Our worth is based in the God who made us. Take away your good looks, your intelligence, your athletic ability, or any of the things that you value about yourself and plain and simple… God still Love’s you. And it is in that Love alone that we ultimately have worth.

We all want to be better – and we certainly want our circumstances to be better – but so far the only thing that I find that actually makes things better… is relying on God.

You have worth. Believe it. God does.


9 thoughts on “Limited… but Loved.

  1. so your saying here that it wouldn’t be the best thing to unlock the full potential of our brain? in the movie the main character makes over 2.5 million in broker funds in a week with just a starting balance of 10,000 (not the exact numbers I’m just going from memory here)
    and when he was asked about a couple of completely random companies by an energy super power he linked all of those random companies to a possible merger of two major energy companies. if we all had the power to grab at nothing and turn it into something wouldn’t the possibilities of our innovative part of our minds grow exponentionaly sending the human race into a speeding trail of innovation? wouldn’t that be a good thing eventually we would cure the deadly deseases of our time we could turn the moon into a non polluted earth but only if the potential is there. I am not trying to prove you wrong just trying to understand what you are trying to say here.

    1. Spoiler Alert**** Info about the movie Limitless proceeds.

      Actually never mind forget what I had said before. But Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a writer who lives in New York City and has recently been dumped by his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) in addition to failing to meet the deadline to turn in his new book, which he hasn’t written yet. One day, Eddie comes across Vernon Gant (Johnny Whitworth), the brother of his ex-wife Melissa Gant (Anna Friel). Vernon is a drug dealer who offers Eddie a sample of a new drug, NZT-48. Eddie accepts and, much to his surprise, the drug increases his intelligence and improves his focus.
      Eddie asks Vernon for more of the drug, and Vernon agrees. When Eddie goes to Vernon’s apartment, he finds Vernon dead. Eddie finds a stash of NZT hidden in the oven alongside a book with several names and some money, which he takes for his own personal gain. With Vernon’s money and the NZT, Eddie creates a new image for himself and abandons writing to enter the stock market. He becomes rich at an incredibly fast pace and is soon employed by the powerful businessman Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro). Eddie also gets back together with Lindy. Meanwhile, he feels that he is being followed by a man in a tan coat (Tomas Arana). Soon, the side-effects of NZT appear.
      Eddie fails to accomplish a task assigned to him by Carl because of the lack of NZT and fears he might have killed a woman. He learns that withdrawal from the drug causes death or a serious damage of the mental faculties. Eddie is warned to reduce the dosages until he can stop, before it’s too late.
      Eddie tries to do so, but, with the lack of it, he starts to feel ill. Eddie pays a chemist to produce more NZT, and in the meantime tries to recover his stolen stash.
      A year later, Eddie has had his book published (the book’s title, Illuminating the Dark Fields, linking to the novel that inspired the film) and is running for United States Senate and is further considered to be a potential candidate for the United States Presidency. In the midst of his Senate campaign, Carl approaches Eddie and informs him that he has purchased the pharmaceutical company that created NZT and forced the closure of Eddie’s lab. Carl offers Eddie an unlimited supply of NZT, however, in return Eddie must approve Carl’s agenda. Eddie refuses the offer, informing Carl that his brain has changed on the synaptic level due to his exposure to the drug, and he no longer needs to take any of it. Eddie’s brain, he says, is left permanently altered, and he retains the cognitive benefits without any drug intake.

  2. Spoiler Alert**** Info about the movie Limitless proceeds.

    My point is merely that one’s ultimate worth is based in the God who made us not in what one can do. God Loves you unconditionally.

    As for: Should we engage in human enhancement? – I think this will happen to us whether we want it to or not. I don’t see technology slowing down anytime soon and if a new enhancement fad is available and people believe it will make them better they will take it. We already do this all of the time just not to such an extraordinary degree.

    In the movie, the main character almost dies (and it is insinuated that many people die before him also) because of taking the drug. He commits adultery, lies, steals, commits murder (maybe) and drinks another person’s blood off the floor. Is that worth wealth and fame? Not to me. But in real life that may not be the actual price.

    What do you think that some of the ethical dilemmas might be regarding unlocking the potential of the human brain?

    1. I think that the ethical view of enhancing one’s BODY has been a huge issue especially among sports and the athletes of today but as far as enhancing the BRAIN and thought process and the ethical view towards it well….. I haven’t really heard of any drug or anything else that has done that, I’m definitely not an expert on the subject and I have never done any extensive research on the subject. as far as the ethical view of it, personally, if there were a drug out there that made me a super genius, i would probably have to think on the matter a lot before I do any type of drug that made me more than human. what about you what are your personal views on body and mind enhancement?

  3. Go Pills (dextroamphetamines) are used in the US Air Force by pilots, Adderall (dextroamphetamines and amphetamine) help people to concentrate, Beta Blockers (eta-adrenergic blocking agents, beta-adrenergic antagonists, or beta antagonists) prevent social anxiety in performance situations. Ritalin (Methylphenidate) helps people with ADHD. I would consider all of these drugs as performance enhancers for brain function.

    My views on body and mind enhancement are pretty extensive. I’m trying to focus on these issues for my doctoral project so you can erad more there when I get that done. Personally, I think that there are side effects to any drugs that we take. One question that I try to consider before I take any drug is: Are the side effects worth whatever the end result is? I take aspirin because it helps me to get rid of a headache. Are there side effects to aspirin? Sure, but they seem to be limited. But, I get headaches sometimes if I fast – and in those cases I try not to take aspirin then because I want my body to begin to learn to deal with the side- effects of fasting. Some may argue that one’s “natural” condition is not one where headaches are present. I find that hard to argue if a headache is something that happens in nature. Everything that I know of happens in nature so how could a headache be “un”natural? Is an aspirin then an enhancement? It appears so.

    So for me it become an issue of: What is God calling me to do? If a person can truthfully say that God is calling them to use a particular enhancement and the community of faith affirms that calling – then it seems to be a legitimate action.

    What do you think about all of that?

  4. when I say mind enhancers I mean like above and beyond what you normally could do. If you have a headache you usually won’t be doing the normal things you would usually do. Like I like to listen to really loud absurd music but when I have a head ache I usually don’t do that seeing as how that would probably make the headache worse, so I take an aspirin so I can get rid of the headache. When you have a headache it’s more like your body isn’t working up to its full ability so you take a drug to get back up to the normal level of function. So I don’t really think of aspirin as a mind enhancer, more like “I feel like crap, now I feel better” type drug. In the movie the main character takes AZT, which enhances all parts of the brain, unlike “Go pills” (as you say above “helps keep the pilot concentrate on the task at hand”) AZT keeps you focused on EVERYTHING unlike any of the pills you mentioned above. Also in the movie AZT lets you access ALL of your memories from your very early child hood to the present. Normal human memory doesn’t do that. When someone asks “hey, do you remember…?” your brain immediately goes back and tries to find the details of the said event. Usually you can’t find to much on anything far back in the past, the closer to the present the easier it is to remember it (in most cases). For instance, I went to Disney world when I was really young but I really can’t remember anything from it besides a couple of small details and maybe a ride or two. it was so long ago it’s near impossible for me to remember most of the week I spent there. I also can’t remember every little detail of the last couple days because I can’t you try it! in the movie, the main character ends up in a subway station and is about to get into a fight. His line is “A fight? I don’t know how to fight! Or do I?” then while he was AZT he remembered every single tiny detail of a Bruce Lee movie and a Fighting Instructional video he watched when he was a kid. He pulled back memories that would normally be impossible for a normal human (by the way he ends up winning the fight). Now that is what I call a “mind enhancement”, I really don’t think that aspirin is an enhancement. What are your thoughts?

  5. Ellis-
    Well headaches are a “natural” part of life right? That’s the question? Some headaches serve as an indicator that causes us to rest so that we can work (or continue to work longer) at a more “optimal” condition. Most people seem to have them from time to time. Maybe they serve to allow our system to reboot from time to time when it’s been on too long./?
    So since individuals vary in ability – the practicalities of enhancement could potentially mean different things for different people right?
    Then it seems that we are talking about degrees of enhancement. Maybe if a person has headaches from time to time that make it harder for them to think then the aspirin would enhance their typical time-to-time headache state? It also might be argued though that the aspirin causes the person to avoid the rest that they need in order to work at a more optimal condition later. This could be a side effect.
    So in your example of AZT – a negative side effect could be that remembering all of ones memories might be a bad thing. Maybe we repress certain memories for our health and wellness? A veteran may need to suppress certain memories to continue living a “good” life. A rape victim may need to do the same. Maybe a person had a traumatizing childhood… You get the idea…
    Maybe being able to bring back every memory of your past might only condition one to be influenced even more by negative surroundings. It might not let people let go of shame and guilt and allow them to feel forgiven.
    And it seems to me that being able to concentrate, or get better grades, or perform better – the “benefits” of Go Pills, Adderall, and Beta Blockers would be considered enhancements right? Because without those drugs one wouldn’t be able to do those things to the degree one did them while taking the drugs. Just like without aspirin you wouldn’t be able to quell the pain in your head. Sure its not to the degree of NZT but an enhancement….?
    Maybe though the rapid transitioning of ideas, the struggle of getting mediocre grades and the lack of pressure when one is an average performer all have benefits also? Maybe that is simply perspective? …comments?

  6. Well Chris when you put it that way you could say that anything we take would be considered an “enhancement”. And, I’m not exactly sure but I think that one could, by reading your post above, say that you said that a sickness is natural and that taking medicine for it would be an enhancement (please tell me if I am wrong). And, in a sense, all modern day medicine and practice are “enhancements” not innovations? please correct me if I am wrong.

  7. That is exactly what I said if by “natural” we agree that we are talking about our current state of existence.

    Maybe the following will be helpful. Wikipedia describes “human enhancement” as the following: “Human enhancement refers to any attempt to temporarily or permanently overcome the current limitations of the human body through natural or artificial means. The term is sometimes applied to the use of technological means to select or alter human characteristics and capacities, whether or not the alteration results in characteristics and capacities that lie beyond the existing human range. Here, the test is whether the technology is used for non-therapeutic purposes. Some bioethicists restrict the term to the non-therapeutic application of specific technologies — neuro-, cyber-, gene-, and nano-technologies — to human biology”

    I am assuming that what you want to talk about is the second definition. But acknowledging that there are (at least) two definitions and the distinguishing which one you are talking about is important so that we can be on the same page in a discussion.

    The question that I would have is that if you do mean the second definition how then would the aforementioned drugs not be human enhancement if they are non-therapeutic? Does a change have to be permanent to be an enhancement?

Comments are closed.