Source: C++ Primer Plus, 6th Edition by Stephen Prata (2012)


Life is full of complexities, and one way we cope with complexity is to frame simplifying abstractions.You are a collection of more than an octillion atoms. Some students of the mind would say that your mind is a collection of several semiautonomous agents.

What exactly does that mean?


1 Answer 1


A student is someone who studies something. Now, usually, we think of students as being taught things by professors, but actually, anyone who does research can be called a student, in the sense that they make a study of a subject.

People that study the mind can be people that do research into how the brain functions, they can be psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. The expression is a little bit vague, since there are several sciences that kan be said to study "the mind".
Whether the author refers to the brain or to a more abstract concept of the mind is not really clear, but also not really relevant to get his message across.

  • Well, you've got a lot of stuff in there, but will you give an actual answer to my question? College students who study scientific disciplines related to the study of how our brain, physiology and cognitive abilities work? Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 9:28
  • 2
    @CookieMonster They do not have to be "college students", that is the whole point. Einstein was a student of gravity. Not when he was in college, but when he was picking up a Nobel prize :)
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 9:30
  • 3
    Because of the use of the ambiguous word mind, there is no absolute, clear, detailed definition of what the author meant. And I don't think the author intended to be very precise, because it doe not matter for his message.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 9:32
  • 1
    As oerkelens said, "the mind" is not a precise term but an encompassing one. Students of the mind are those who take the mind itself as the object of their research: they look at how we turn perceptions into thoughts and thoughts into concepts and concepts into psychological constructs like self-identity. An undergraduate taking Intro to Psychology would not really be considered a "student of the mind". But a psychology major might, and certainly a PhD candidate in cognitive psychology would be, as would someone studying brain chemistry. These "students" are typically advanced researchers.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 10:40
  • students of history on the other hand might well include many avid amateurs, since the study of history does not require a laboratory,
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 10:47

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