Yes, I use "reactive" because it means to respond to a stimulus. In this case, the stimulus is the subject of the photo - and the response is making the photo.
Receptive means open and responsive to ideas, impressions and suggestions. I don't mean to wordsmith this, but you can be responsive (thinking, analyzing, etc.) with no reaction (doing something) because of the stimulus.
***"If photography is indeed uniquely compatible with this methodology, then I feel that it's important for me to understand that."***
This has nothing to do with compatibility of the medium, it has to do with you discovering the best working method for yourself. But, before you can do that, you need to find out what kind of photos you want to make. This is part of developing your own personal vision about whatever interests you, and then trying to put what you see/think is interesting into a photograph that is meaningful to you - and then maybe, others will find meaningful also. If they aren't interested, don't worry - you may just be too advanced for them.
***"I'm just trying to figure out what I'm doing"***
Yeah, me too - and I've been trying to figure it out now for the past 35 years. My advice is to relax, take your time, and don't be concerned if it turns into a lifetime pursuit.
***"I have no education or training in photography, and in fact, know very few other photographers."***
I have a lot of formal and informal photographic education, and know quite a few famous photographers - I'm not sure it's all that important. If you are interested in photography you will educate yourself in whatever way you need to in order to better understand what you are doing. It may be through formal classes or reading books and using what you understand in a trial and error method.
There is no one best way. Edward Weston really had no formal education in photography, and had a lean methodology that was perfect for his style. Ansel Adams had to know why things happened so that he could control them and pursued photography through a self-developed semi-scientific method. Leslie Stroebel and Richard Zakia understand photography to the sub-atomic level in both physics and chemistry. Of the people named - which ones are famous for making "art," and which are famous for contributions to the understanding of photoscience? Each has their place because both areas (art & science) advance photography - one is not better or more important than the other - only different.
I think you might benefit by getting a book called, "Perception and Imaging" by Richard Zakia. It's a quite fascinating study of human perception and translation of perceptions into a photographic image.
There are even "excercises" you can do to verify or play with the concepts presented. The nice thing is that for all of Mr. Zakia's photo background, he truly advocates breaking the "rules" (and shows his examples of doing this), and having fun with making photographs - and that's really what it should be about.