The world as we perceive it is structured into objects, actions and places that form parts of events. In this article, my aim is to explain why these categories are cognitively primary. From an empiricist and evolutionary standpoint, it is argued that the reduction of the complexity of sensory signals is based on the brain's capacity to identify various types of invariances that are evolutionarily relevant for the activities of the organism. The first aim of the article is to explain why places, object and actions are primary cognitive categories in our constructions of the external world. It is shown that the invariances that determine these categories have their separate characteristics and that they are, by and large, independent of each other. This separation is supported by what is known about the neural mechanisms. The second aim is to show that the category of events can be analyzed as being constituted of the primary categories. The category of numbers is briefly discussed. Some implications for computational models of the categories are also presented. Copyright © 2020 Gärdenfors.