I have a friend with whom I argue about the same thing in all manner of guise. A recent version centered on rhetoric, in the context of writing non-fiction. I was arguing that there is some way in which writing that is transparent, i.e., made up out of sentences in which what one means is in some significant (and stylistically unique) sense equivalent to what one says -- that such writing is, in a way that matters, less rhetorically inflected than other forms. My friend disagrees with this, holds that all writing is performance all the way down. To think - I take him to be saying - that "transparent" writing is somehow any less of a show, is analogous to thinking that there is such a thing as "value-free" social science.
He may be right about this. But the thing that it gets to, and that I don't think he's right about - and maybe he doesn't even think it - is the idea that everything period is performance. It seems to me that the problem with this view, that is to say with pragmatism, is that there are certain things that presuppose that it is not so, presuppose that there is indeed a difference between performance and not-performance. Sincerity, for example. It is in the nature of the case that if one is talking about a "performance of sincerity," then one is not actually talking about sincerity. Or at a minimum one is not using the word in a way that is consistent with its accepted definition. It strikes me that this is a good reason to think that pragmatism is flawed, philosophically, viz., that it renders sincerity unintelligible.