Joots is a term coined by Douglas Hofstadter. It stands for "Jumping Out Of The System." Jootsing is doing that.
This is an important tactic not just in science and philosophy, but also in the arts. Creativity, that ardently sought but only rarely found virtue, often is a heretofore unimagined violation of the rules of the system from which it springs.
...When you are confronting a scientific or philsophical problem, the system you need to jump out of is typically so entrenched that it is as invisible as the air you breathe.
As a general rule, when a long-standing controversy seems to be getting nowhere, with both "sides" stubbornly insisting they are right, as often as not the trouble is that there is something they both agree on that is just not so.
Both sides consider it so obvious, in fact, that it goes without saying. Finding these invisible problem-poisoners is not an easy task, because whatever seems obvious to these warring experts is apt to seem obvious, on reflection, to just about everybody.
This reminds me of a term often used by a regular commenter on this blog, Mike Williams. He often speaks of Something Else.
Not God. Not energy. Not matter. Not spirit. Not mind. Not consciousness.
At least, I'm pretty sure these sorts of things can't be Something Else, because they are such familiar concepts. Sure, no one knows what any of those words really means, but enough people think they do to make possible lively debate about them.
God exists. Or not. Consciousness is brain-based. Or not. And so on. Dennett has this to say about consciousness, in regard to joots:
Ray Jackendoff and I have argued that we must drop the almost always tacit assumption that consciousness is the "highest" or "most central" of all mental phenomena, and I have argued that thinking of consciousness as a special medium (rather like the ether) into which contents get transduced or translated is a widespread and unexamined habit of thought that should be broken.
Dennett notes that productive jootsing sometimes involves subtraction, and sometimes addition.
Several of the great instances of jootsing have involved abandoning some well-regarded thing that turned out not to exist after all. Phlogiston was supposed to be an element in fire, and caloric was the invisible, self-repellent fluid or gas that was supposed to be the chief ingredient in heat, but these were dropped, and so was the ether as a medium in which light traveled the way sound travels through air and water.
But other admirable jootsings are additions, not subtractions: germs and electrons and -- maybe even -- the many-worlds interpetation of quantum mechanics!
"Why is there something rather than nothing?" is mentioned as a philosophical (and religious) question that deserves some jootsing. I agree.
I've blogged about this question quite a bit. The more I ponder it, the more it seems to me that presuming the reality of "nothing" is highly dubious. Abandon that supposed "thing," and the problem implied by the question disappears.
We know something exists. There's no reason to believe nothing does exist, or could exist.
Yet philosophers and metaphysicians who enjoy playing the "Why is there something rather than nothing?" game have agreed to assume the validity of the question.
What other philosophical, religious, spiritual, mystical and other sorts of problems/questions could benefit from some jootsing -- some Jumping Out Of The System where reality is looked at from a surprisingly different angle?
Hard to say. Jootsing is tough to do. Personally, I think it is almost impossible to willfully Jump Out Of The System, because almost always we're doing so from a toehold within the System. We end up jumping only to a different corner of the System, not out of it entirely.
Relaxing. Trusting. Opening up. Surrendering. Letting loose. Flowing freely.
I feel those words point to a better platform for jootsing. Which really means, no platform. Or at least, a minimal one.
Isn't it true that when we try really hard to remember the name of someone, it eludes us; but often pops into awareness when we least expect it?
Jootsing might work the same way.