How did we get to the point where anybody sees it any other way. I'll quite from my article "The American Yekkes":
In the Nineteen Letters, Rav Hirsch, apparently basing himself on the Kuzari, challenges a notion that developed in parts of Medieval Spanish Jewry that the goal of man was philosophic perfection for which mitzvos were a handmaiden, rather than the reverse. In Rav Hirsch’s view this approach was the result of an attempt to reconcile Judaism with Greek thought. Aristotle had said, “The highest individual perfection is speculative wisdom, the excellence of that purely intellectual part called reason.” (Comp. Aristotle, Ethics, I, 6.) ("The American Yekkes," Seforim blog)As my friend Tzvi Abraham has noted, in the Ashkenaz tradition there is a special emphasis on religious ritual that antinomian strains in other derachim have undermined. The German Jewish community is quite dedicated to Torah study. I was at a Yekke vachnacht (gathering the night before a bris) recently where most of the time (like 90%) was spent talking over Chumash, Mishnah, Gemara, and Halacha on the topic bris milah. I had never been to a vachnacht quite like it. Yet, mitzvos and action are also very important. Hirsch has a large quantity of writings (Horeb, Chumash, and the Collected Writing's essays) that discuss the symbolism of each mitzvah. His ideas encourage and beautify mitzvah observance.