It is surely no accident that the idea of sincerity, of the own self and the difficulty of knowing and showing it, should have arisen to vex men’s minds in the epoch that saw the sudden efflorescence of the theatre. A well-known contemporary work of sociology bears the title, The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life — we can suppose that the Hamlet of our day says: ‘I have that within which passeth presentation.’ In this enterprise of presenting the self, of putting ourselves on the social stage, sincerity itself plays a curiously compromised part. Society requires of us that we present ourselves as being sincere, and the most efficacious way of satisfying this demand is to see to it that we really are sincere, that we actually are what we want our community to know we are. In short, we play the role of being ourselves, we cincerely act the part of the sincere person, with the result that a judgment may be passed upon our sincerity that it is not authentic.

Lionel Trilling, from Sincerity and Authenticity (1971)