Source: p 175, Introducing Philosophy for Canadians: A Text with Integrated Readings (2011 1 ed).

[...]  "essentia involvit existentiam" [essence entails existence].

Wiktionary (and the Lewis & Charles Short entry cited thereunder) do not list 'entail'. I understand not the semantic shift, because decomposing 'involvō' into 'in' + ' 'volvō' reveals that

A involves B.

⟹ A rolls around/into/to/on B.

But for A to be able to roll about B in some manner, B must have existed before A.
So how can A be thought to entail B? If anything, B should entail A, because B precedes A.

1 Answer 1


I don't think involvo necessitates a temporal order: for essence to involve or entail existence, it isn't necessary for existence to exist before essence existed. The order is not temporal, nor causal, but merely rational: one thinks of existence when one thinks of essence.

The image involved in the word involvo is that of a cloud encircling and touching a mountaintop, or a snake entwining a tree: the snake is very close to the tree, and it would be difficult to separate them. That is what involvo should mean in this sense: one thing is close to another and hard to separate from it. The metaphor is obvious from there.

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