Ever since Jakobson (or, shall we say, Plato?) linguists have been searching for universals. Their views on the role of universals in language and linguistics have varied widely, though. In this session we want to concentrate on the question of the existence of universal principles for the study of language. Natural Phonology has always advocated the holistic view on language, both in the sense of analyzing language structures as well as in the sense of seeing language as part of the universe. The latter means that the same principles of explanation apply to language and to other aspects of life, and thus they are derivable from the most general laws of human interaction with nature. In Natural Phonology the principles are cognitive, phonetic, psychological, sociological, etc. They lead to the establishment of linguistic preferences which guide the explanation of language-specific structures.