You should always keep in mind the differences between the Buddha's dispensation, and the teaching of, let's say, Socrates, Plato and other Hellenistic philosophers, which were, apparently, contemporaries of the historical Buddha.
While Greek philosophers were trying to use their intellect to understand the world surrounding us, sometimes as a means for living a better life, and others just for the sake of knowing more, the Buddha was part of a living tradition of ascetics and mystics that were trying to get free from Samsara (this latter concept having multiple descriptions and definitions, according to the tradition telling the story).
The Simpasa Leaves sutta point to the general direction of Early Buddhism: deliverance from suffering. All the efforts, both practical and intellectual, were directed to that very end; all the teachings, debates and analyses had Dukkha and the end of Dukkha as its axis.
Intellect is an essential part of Buddhism, as well as critical thinking and empirical endeavours. Your views about the world inform to and are the basis of your perceptions and thought, which in time are the ground for your intentions and actions. And that's why the cultivation of the mind is so important to the Path. But this cultivation is not a mere absoption of information, but a practice for understanding suffering, the causes of suffering, the ending of suffering and the path leading to it. Everything else goes beyond the point.
This is why it's so hard to classify Buddhism as a religion or as a philosophy. It has a bit if both, while being none. If comparison have to be made, Stoicism would be a good point to start if you are looking to the west, and early Daoism, if you look to the East. Both paths were pretty practical, both in reflexion and in deeds.
EDIT: This post from a discussion on DhammaWheel might shed some light on the question of the involvement of Buddhism in matters that may fall outside the "original dispensation" (on quotations, because we'll never know for sure if the NikayAgamas contain the original teachings just as the historical Buddha taught them).
Have a wonderful day!