Confucius' most well-known accomplishment is creating the philosophy of Confucianism. This philosophy stresses that a stable society requires people to follow tradition and a policy of mutual respect. Confucianism provided the basis for the bureaucracy in imperial China.
Confucius was born in 551 B.C., a period in which China was torn by wars between battling regional states. Seeking to provide a philosophy to stabilize the region, Confucius came up with the basic principle of ren, which is similar to "compassion." He believed that all members of society should show ren to one another while preserving their social station. Thus, for example, rulers should not be needlessly brutal to their subjects, and subjects should pay due deference to their ruler. The Han Dynasty, which began ruing in 206 B.C., adopted Confucian thought as the basis for its imperial bureaucracy, a position which it retained for thousands of years.