Peirce  was one of the first to reject Hegelian dialectic and assert that consciousness evolves in a Darwinian manner, regarding mental variations as random and negative selection as removing those that are non-functional (tychastic evolution, in his terminology). Peirce’s view of thought as consisting of a complex array of atomistic signs and symbols, comes close to the meme concept. His following description of the evolution of symbols bears many similarities to Dawkins’ idea of mutating and recombining memes:
`Symbols grow. They come into being by development out of other signs… … we think only in signs… it is only out of symbols that a new symbol can grow… a symbol, once in being, spreads among the symbols. Such words as force, wealth, law, marriage, bear for us different meanings from those they bore for our barbarous ancestors’ (Peirce ).
Peirce’s symbols do not have to be linguistic – his theory leaves room for music and other cultural manifestations. The modern discipline of semiology is a development of Peirce’s thought. Aside from Peircian semiology’s historical interest as a precursor of the meme concept, his theory of the nature of truth, known as Pragmatism, offers a model for the way that memes can evolve. His world of signs has more flexibility, if less order, than that of early Wittgenstein’s Logical Atomism. The basic description of a meme, or sign, does not contain any truth function, that is a meme may be an undeniable fact or a highly absurd piece of nonsense or what Wittgenstein  would have termed a pseudo-proposition. There is nothing to indicate how `true’ a meme may be until it is tested in the world. The Pragmatic approach to `truth’ by trial and error offers a potential cultural equivalent of Darwinian evolution in genetics.