Many recent scholars have interpreted Nietzsche as an ethical naturalist in the long tradition of Aristotle. This article challenges that interpretation by arguing that the early period Nietzsche is an ethical idealist in the tradition of Kant. I focus on the early period writings, since Nietzsche is clearest in them about the neo-Kantian influences on his thought, the meaninglessness of natural existence, his distinction between the ideal of humanity and the enslavement to our animality, and the ethical need for redemption to live a good life.

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