I am fairly new to Buddhism, so take my words with a grain of salt.. I'm sure someone more experienced will answer your question soon.
The way I see the precepts are that they are simply guidelines for living that help reinforce the humble and gentle nature that Buddhism steers you to, and by following these guidelines you are also following the Eightfold Path. http://buddhism.about.com/od/theeightfoldpath/a/eightfoldpath.htm
Buddhism to me, is about understanding yourself and the nature of your own mind, with the result being a more accurate view of reality. Within this more accurate perception you will find also many insights into the nature of other phenomena as well.
If you are truly interested in learning, I'm sure many people can offer you reading material.. and as someone who is also new I really, really recommend "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh"http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Buddhas-Tea ... 0767903692
I've found TNH explains thing's in a very understandable way(alot of Buddhist reading material is tough to understand, for me), and he is also very inspiring at the same time.
Anyways, I hope I was at least a little helpful, and like I said I'm new so take my opinions lightly.