I've not been much of an Aquinas fan (actually, more often than not, quite the contrary), but as I was working on his SUMMA THEOLOGICA  this morning a portion hit me that's contrary to the well-known, much-extolled title of this thread and I wanted to run it by you all.
: Does ignorance of the intricacies, cacophany of laws imposed excuse ones' obligation to accept 'it' as a 'law'?
- Collections of people, as I mean as nation-states and/or communities make 'laws' governing the conduct of their people. Whether formal or informal, written or word-of-mouth, most that I've come across adhere to the principle - loosely stated - "you should have known", "its your responsibility to know the law" or "ignorance is no excuse".
- As a matter of utility, I'd agree with this; however, our favorite Saint-A (in the aforementioned treaty) makes a strong case against this in his "on the contrary" sub-heading below. Unfortunately, he backtracks on this somewhat in his objections 2 and 3 below by saying, essentially, "Well, others could have told you" -and- "Hey man, it's written!".
- In this part he uses the word 'Promulgated' much; an understanding of what this words means is essential to get the jist of this article. The defintion is here; however, a general understanding of the word might be: To make known.
: From Summa Theologica, Part I of the Second Part, QQ 90 Article IV:
[INDENT]Article 4: Whether promulgation Is Essential to a Law?
We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: It wold seem that promulgation is not essential to law.
For the natural law above all has the character of law. But the natural law needs no promulgation. Therefore it is not essential to a law that it be promulgated.
: Further, it belongs properly to a low to bind one to do or not to do someting that the obligation of fulfilling a law touches not only those in whose presence it is promulgated, but also others. Therefore promulgation is not essential to law.
: Further, the binding force of a law extends even to the future, since "laws are binding in matters of the future, " as the jurists say (Cod I, tit. De lege et constit. leg. vii
) . But promulgation concerns those who are present. Therfore it is not essential to law.
[/INDENT]On the Contrary,
it is laid down in the Decretals, dist. 4
 that "laws are established when they are promulgated."
I answer that
, as stated above (A.I), a law is imposed on others by wayof a rule and measure. Now a rule or measure is imposed by being applied to those who are to be ruled and measured by it. Therefore, in order that a law obtain the binding force which is proper to a law, it must be applied to the men who have to be ruled by it. Such application is made by its being notified to them by promulgation. Therefore promulgation is necessary for the law to obtain its force.
Thus from the four preceeding articles, the definition of law may be gathered; and it is nothing other than an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated.
[INDENT]Reply Obj, 1:
The natural law is promulgated by the very fact that God instilled it into man's mind so as to be known by him naturally.
Reply Obj, 2:
Those who are not present when a law is promugated are bound to observe the law in so far as it is notified or can be notified to them by others, after it has been promulgated.
Reply Obj, 3:
The prumulgation that takes place now extends to future time by reason of the durability of written character, by which means it is continually promulgated. Hence, Isidore says (Etym. ii, 10)
 that "lex (law) is derived from legere
(to read) because it is written."
So he makes a strong case for laws needing to be known
. Then goes back on it with objection-replies 2 and 3. Yet what strikes me is the need for this promulgation and the quandry it places on culturs whose laws could contain thousands of volumes
I feel that as Saint-A originally asserted, for laws to be accepted as laws, they must be made known
; however, as a matter of practical utility, once the sheer volume of laws reaches a certain quantity, either (A) that a nation should release all its citizens from such laws -or- (B) all citizens, as a matter of fairness, should go through as many decades of memorization as necessary to know all laws and specifications. Since both of these are absurd, practically, we're left in a bit tenuous position.
- Must laws be 'made known' to be fairly enforced? Yes
- Assuming we don't live in a village, how can we know them all? Answer: We can't
- How is it fair to then enforce them? Answer: It's not
So yea, if we follow this line of logic through we're left with an unacceptable situation. Yet I (and I assume most of you) do accept; we just muddle through, try to use what we conceive to be common-sense and just kinda "hope" we don't get smacked with something we were supposed to know.
I'd appreciate any insight.
 Yea I know, I desparately need a life.
 Justinian, II, 68a
 Gratian, Pt. I, d. iv, append. ad can 3 (RF 1,6)
 PL 82, 130.