Conceptions of identity, based on race, gender, class, religion, sexuality, ability, and age, all underlie systemic violence, oppression, and injustice, specifically because they are reductive conceptions of personal identity. Beliefs about reductive identity are assumed and perpetuated by modern liberal and neoliberal institutions. The social epistemology that leads to beliefs about reductive identity and market-based rationality underlie extreme forms of individualism, consumerism, and unsustainable anti-environmentalism, and undermine personal and social well-being.
A social epistemology that perpetuates beliefs about a nonreductive identity (ātma) and autonomy, actualized through selfless service, is sufficient to address many forms of systemic injustice and oppression. Instantiating this social epistemology begins with a negative duty to renounce the privilege afforded by modern institutions and a positive duty to form intentional communities of care. Mahātmā Gandhi’s nonviolent social justice movement (satyāgraha), and other similar, social movements, will be explored and used as embodied examples of an attempt to produced the above-mentioned social epistemology, with an emphasis on reforming modern institutions such that intentional communities with non-market values can be formed.