Confucius is the most influential thinker in Chinese civilization and the first whose philosophy can be reconstructed to any significant degree. Confucius was a ritual master, and there were surely many ritual masters in the generations preceding him. Confucius was apparently the first to have his teachings documented by his disciples, and, not coincidentally, seems to have emphasized the moral aspect of correct ritual practice to an unprecedented degree. The prime difficulty facing any modern reader of Confucius, however, is that he did not leave behind any written work. There are two main reasons why Confucius never felt compelled to leave behind a treatise or similar written text. First, in his day, writing was not the most important means of communication. Second, Confucius may have deemed writing incompatible with one of his most important ideas: that people need to think for themselves.