Paradigm hacking is the art of asking uncommon questions of prevailing wisdom in order to uncover new truths that lead to the development of otherwise unexpected and even impossible solutions. In many cases, these solutions are technologies but they can also be public policies and in some special cases they can even be new epistemology or philosophy.
A computer hacker uses detailed knowledge of computers to break system specifications to achieve novel ends while a paradigm hacker uses artful and relentless questioning of reality to uncover areas where perception and reality diverge.
Here are some reasonable definitions from around the web.
From the 1960s, the word has referred to thought pattern in any scientific discipline or other epistemological context. The Merriam-Webster Online dictionary defines this usage as “a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated; broadly : a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind.
The term achieved widespread use in the 1960s and its meaning then evolved to a quick, elaborate and/or bodged solution students devised for a technical obstacle; it was used with hacker, meaning one who discovers and implements a hack. The word itself comes from the German word meaning “someone who makes furniture with an axe”, implying a lack of finesse in a “hack”; it is believed by many in the hacking community that the reason for this is because programs too large to run on the limited computer resources of the time had portions “chopped” or “hacked” out in order to be reduced to a more reasonable size.