Strange and Norrell: Have you ever read Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell? In the book, Strange and Norrell are magicians that seek to restore magic to England. Norrell believes in books and well-defined algorithms that can be put to work to solve every imaginable problem. He believes that magic is complete and all a magician should do is to look up the right "recipe" for his specific problem. Strange believes in intuition. He is not content with Norrell's rules and regularly breaks them to uncover new ways. Turns out, though, that these new ways are not necessarily new - magicians of older ages used to travel them regularly.
Art and science: Why do I tell you this? Because for me, this conflict between the Strangite and the Norrelite approach to magic is at the heart of how we perceive both art and science. As a scientist who happens to write fiction, I know both sides of the medal: the scrutinising, thorough side of the scientist that measures and categorizes and puts into order and melds into formulas. Science needs to be transparent and reproducable. It is crucial that a scientist tells you exactly how he conducted his work. We need names for everything, and if something doesn't have a name yet, we think very long and very hard and come up with a one. The other side: Intuitive, much less conscious - art that simply seeks to express something, stir emotions, touch its audience. Art is not about conveying information. It is about feelings. In that sense, it seems to be the opposite of the scientific approach. Nevertheless, I am convinced that it is foolish to completely discard one of these two approaches. Creativeness needs order to be put into good use. Science depends on creativeness to come up with the right questions.
Regarding your question, my feeling is that you worry too much. As a storyteller, you are an adventurer. So what, if other people have wandered the paths you are exploring right now? Thousands and thousands of people have been to the Hagia Sophia, or to Cape Hoorn. Does it take away from the experience? Does it diminish your experience? I would be very surprised, if you were not touched or impressed by Cape Hoorn, just because you are not the first one to go there.
Here's to changes: Apart from this, as you tagged this under "philosophy", I am convinced that language - and thus the art of it, be it rhetorics in general or creative writing - is never complete. Language changes, and so does the way we perceive written and oral art. Obviously, if you stick to all the rules, you will never contribute to these changes.
And why being put off by the mere possibility that your audience might judge your work by standards that you are not even familiar with? This, after all, is what happens to art all the time. Take Goethe and Shakespeare. These two would probably be lost in today's world, and yet we measure their work by our standards. Still, Macbeth and Faust are great works of literature, almost everybody agrees on that, and I honestly can't imagine Goethe being worried about some future readers of his not getting the genius of his work. After all, what can happen, if your audience is not familiar with the rules you applied to your work, be they social, formal, or of any other kind? Possibility 1: They turn away from your work, because they believe that they can not, under any circumstances, understand it. Bad luck there. Or, possibility 2, and that's what happens in pretty much every fantasy novel: They accept your rules and agree to be educated about them by you, the writer. And who knows - maybe, if your rules are good and make sense to them, they will incorporate them in their own lives.
Plus, people are not stupid, and you are not the only rebel. There's always conservatives on the one hand and the curious on the other - Norrellites and Strangites.
Conclusion: So: Bend the rules. Break them, if you wish to. If your concept is solid and your work self-consistent, people will notice and accept it. Mind, this might not be the majority. But let's be honest: The majority is the audience of main stream art, and main stream these days seems to translate into entertainment. Entertainment doesn't usually seek to challenge, entertainment doesn't want to be unexpected. Entertainment abides by the rules, and that's perfectly fine. It is, however, your decision whether you want to be an entertainer or an explorer.
In any case, it can't hurt to know the rules. Only a very careless - no, let's face it: a very stupid - explorer would set out without accumulating all the existing knowledge about his expedition beforehand: Maps, knowledge about indigenous tribes, about the climate, flora, fauna, diseases. But if something unexpected occurs, something that fall outside of the jurisdiction of the existing rules - and that's bound to happen, it's an expedition, after all -, he is ready to come up with solutions.